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Progression in Mathematics for Physics

  1. Oct 29, 2014 #1
    Hello all, this is my first post. Any help will by greatly appreciated!

    I just started reading a degree in physics at imperial college. I just want to ask how should I progress through the mathematics for physics. I've worked through Mary Boas' book from chapter 1 to 8. Is it a good time now to start Complex Analysis, PDE or Tensor Analysis? What other topic should I also try to learn? Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 29, 2014 #2


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    Its a very good start to learn the materials covered in that book. If you do it well, you probably won't need anything else from mathematics for the rest of your study in college. But if you want to go further, you'll need much more math!
    And about the question that is it a good time to learn them or not! well, you're going to have a course on these things later. You can wait for that course but that won't cover all of it, but only a selection of subjects that will certainly miss some important ones. If you study now, you'll have an easier time in that course and also can learn deeper than others. Also you can cover more.
    I strongly suggest you to learn calculus of variations, vector and tensor analysis, complex analysis, Sturm-Liouville theory, matrices and determinants, curvilinear coordinates, some special functions, and at least some introductory knowledge about linear algebra.
    Just take it easy. You don't have to do it in one week, or even one month. You can move very very slowly.

    Now that I look at that book, it seems to be good that you have Arfken's only as a back up.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2014
  4. Nov 3, 2014 #3
    What do you mean?
  5. Nov 4, 2014 #4


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    Boas's book has a lower level than Arfken's and so tries to make things a little easier. For example she doesn't cover Sturm-Liuoville theory explicitly! which Arfken does and its good to learn the theory the way it is. There may be other things too so my suggestion is, you read Boas's book and after finishing it, you can check Arfken's and read the parts that Boas missed or explained not as good. Also reading Arfken's after actually knowing something about the subject, sometimes deepens your understanding.
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