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Algebra Question Regarding Purchasing an Algebra Book

  1. May 25, 2017 #1

    I am a math undergraduate major and just finished my first abstract algebra course. Unfortunately, we used the lecturer's notes which are quite dry, without motivation, and it really felt bad. I am really interested in abstract algebra, and thus has decided to re-learn it over the summer. After a long research over the internet, I have seen that both Herstein's topics and Pinter's book are well regarded and highly recommended.

    But now I have some difficulties to decide which one I should purchase.

    My concerns about Herstein's: I have read that it (a) does not give insights on the subjects(which sounds weird - how can it become a classic if it is not that good?) and (b) as he writes in the preface that some of the problem are not meant to be solved but rather just to tackle, which sounds a bit odd.

    My concerns about Pinter's: in the MAA review, they say that the problems are not challenging, and I am not sure if it is at the same level as Herstein's.

    My purpose is to continue with abstract algebra. So this course will not be my last one, and therefore I want to really understand what is going on.

    I checked them both at the library, and both are wonderful books(and also D&F). I also checked Artin's, Jacobson's, Van Der Waerden but didn't like them very much.

    I will be grateful for any advice and/or recommendations.

    Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 25, 2017 #2


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    If you are studying on your own, I wouldn't be too concerned about a book not being tough enough (at the same level as Herstein's). If it's easy, you can read through it fast and all is well. If it's too tough, you may either get stalled or get confused without help. If you checked them from the library, compare them both on the same subject, preferably one that you already understand, and see if you like how they describe it.
  4. May 25, 2017 #3
    Any thoughts about Serge Lang's text ?
  5. May 25, 2017 #4
    Thank you for the answer. As I wrote, I already look at them both and loved them both, unfortunately...

    Thank you for the answer. Do you mean "Undergraduate Algebra" or just "Algebra"?
  6. May 25, 2017 #5
    I don't have much experience with many algebra books, but excuse me for chiming in anyway. The algebra books I used as an undergraduate are Hungerford's Abstract Algebra: An Introduction and Artin's Algebra. I recall understanding and liking Hungerford's book more. Though this feeling is probably colored by the fact that the portions I studied in Artin were the more advanced stuff not in Hungerford's, like group representation theory.
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