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Classical Principia Mathematica

  1. Feb 2, 2016 #1
    I've been trying to read Newton's Principia Mathematica, sth I've always wanted to do since college.

    i'm familiar with the physics concepts and necessary mathematics involved, but often I found it's very hard to read the book, sometimes to the point that i'm totally lost as what Newton's trying to explain.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 2, 2016 #2
    Principia is important for historical reasons, but as far as learning from it, it's pretty useless. Much better to get a book on calculus and mechanics.
  4. Feb 4, 2016 #3


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    To understand the Principia is very hard. Usually we don't learn the math (pretty advanced Euclidean geometry, which for good reasons we use in terms of analytical geometry nowadys) used there. If I remember right, Chandrasekhar wrote a commentary on the Principia to make it better readable for the modern physicist.
  5. Feb 5, 2016 #4
    I agree with the others. That book is difficult to read mostly for the language and notation used at that time, not necessarily because of the depth of coverage. Don't get me wrong. Newton was one of the greatest mathematicians ever ! But, so much work has been done since and clearer expositions have been written.
  6. Mar 24, 2016 #5


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    I tried to read it, the language is very hold and difficult to understand, the exposition uses the Euclidean geometry and a lot of reasoning on geometrical figures. I think it is interesting to see these proofs after learned the mechanics with our modern language (calculus and linear algebra). For a beginner I suggest to procede in this way...

    When you read the Principia you have to keep in mind that he wrote for the level of knowledge of his time ...
  7. Mar 25, 2016 #6
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
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