Question Regarding Purchasing an Algebra Book

In summary, the individual is a math undergraduate major who recently completed their first abstract algebra course but did not enjoy the lecturer's notes. They are interested in re-learning the subject over the summer and have researched popular books such as Herstein's and Pinter's. They are unsure which one to purchase due to concerns about Herstein's lack of insights and Pinter's not being challenging enough. They also mention considering books by Artin, Jacobson, and Van Der Waerden but not liking them as much. They seek advice and recommendations, specifically asking about Serge Lang's text. The expert notes that if studying on their own, they should not worry about a book being too easy, and suggests comparing both books from the library to see
  • #1
mr.tea
102
12
Hi,

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.
 
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  • #2
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.
 
  • #3
Any thoughts about Serge Lang's text ?
 
  • #4
FactChecker said:
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.

Thank you for the answer. As I wrote, I already look at them both and loved them both, unfortunately...

Buffu said:
Any thoughts about Serge Lang's text ?
Thank you for the answer. Do you mean "Undergraduate Algebra" or just "Algebra"?
 
  • #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.
 

Related to Question Regarding Purchasing an Algebra Book

1. What is the best algebra book for beginners?

The best algebra book for beginners will vary based on individual learning styles and preferences. Some popular options include "Algebra for Dummies" by Mary Jane Sterling and "Algebra Essentials Practice Workbook with Answers" by Chris McMullen.

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3. Is it necessary to purchase a new edition of an algebra book?

It is not always necessary to purchase a new edition of an algebra book. While newer editions may include updates or additional practice problems, older editions can still provide valuable information and practice opportunities.

4. Are there any free resources for learning algebra?

Yes, there are many free resources available for learning algebra. Websites such as Khan Academy and MathisFun offer comprehensive lessons and practice problems. Additionally, many public libraries offer access to online learning platforms and e-books for free.

5. Can I purchase an algebra book online?

Yes, you can purchase an algebra book online through various retailers such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and textbook rental websites. You can also purchase e-books or access online versions of algebra books through these platforms.

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