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Self-Learn Textbook Suggestions

  1. May 13, 2012 #1
    Last time I made the mistake of making a solutions manual thread. This is probably what I should've asked instead:

    Most textbooks I own either have poor student solutions manuals or offer a few answers in the back, which makes learning yourself and checking your work rather difficult. I'm going to post some of the topics I'm looking for books in, and if anyone knows of a textbook that is geared towards people who are teaching themselves, I'd appreciate it if you could list the title so I can buy it.

    Ideally, I want these books to contain a lot of worked out examples, and answers to the majority of the practice problems. The answers don't necessarily have to be worked out solutions, just enough to check your work.

    Also, if you could mention which of these features the book you're recommending has in your posts, i.e. "I recommend ______, it has plenty of examples, though no solutions."

    Topics:

    Differential Geometry

    Quantum Mechanics

    Relativity

    E&M

    Optics

    Magnetohydrodynamics
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. May 13, 2012 #2
    What kind of differential geometry do you want? I've heard good reviews of Kreyzig's book. It's a dover, so it's cheap. Check it out the reviews on amazon. I don't know if he covers manifolds in any detail though.
     
  4. May 15, 2012 #3
    Cool suggestion. I'll check it out. I don't have too specific of a preference, I pretty much like everything. I mostly just don't want to end up being another physicist held back by his/her lack of mathematical proficiency.

    Also I'd be interested in books on topology
     
  5. May 16, 2012 #4
    For topology try Munkres 2nd ed.
     
  6. May 16, 2012 #5
    I don't know why no one has mentioned the books in the Schaum's Outline series. The books I have come across in that series are generally well illustrated with graphics and have many fully solved problems. There are also problems that have no solutions or answers, but each chapter has 20 or 30 worked problems, and then another 20 or 30 without answers.

    Also, the books are quite cheap. The level of the books, I have found, are usually slightly lower than what it would be in a university course. But this makes them good for self-study and as introductions to the subjects. I think that you will probably have to move on to more standard textbooks afterwards, but they are very good supplements.

    They have books on all the subjects you listed except relativity and magnetohydrodynamics.

    By the way, if you're worried about the price (Munkres's topology book is ridiculously expensive new) you may want to look at books by Dover publications. Their books are classics that would have otherwise gone out of print. This also means some of them may be a bit old-fashioned, but classics can never be obsolete. For example, Dover has many excellent books on general (or point-set) topology. I am familiar with Willard, which is very good but may be a bit advanced, but they also have Mendelson, Gamelin & Greene, Hocking & Young, and some others, books which have very good reputations.

    However, Dover books generally do not have solutions. Munkres doesn't, and most university books don't. But at least Dover books are cheap. And Munkres also covers algebraic topology, but I hardly think that justifies the price.
     
  7. May 16, 2012 #6
    For EM:

    I have Griffiths Introduction to Electrodynamics, Hyat and Bucks' Engineer Electromagnetics, Schwartz Pricniples of Electrodynamics (Dover book), and have looked at the Schuam's outline for Electromagnetics.


    Griffiths is a good book that reads well. I would consider it light on examples and it has no answers to end of chapter problems.

    Hyat and Bucks is an ok book that a lot of people don't seem to like. It certainly has some sections I don't care for but other sections I like. I would also consider it light on examples and it has no answers to end of chapter problems. I have the 6th edition and have an old electronic copy of the solutions manual though which I think can be found online if you look.

    Schwartz I would not consider more than a reference. It would be hard to self learn from. It is interesting to read in conjuction with another book because it takes a different approach to a lot of topics which can be really benificial. It has a lot of derivation but few examples and no solutions/answers for end of chapter problems.

    The Schuam's outline has a lot of worked problems and even more problems with just solutions but is short on the explanation you would need to learn the subject properly.


    Given my experience with EM books, if you were to self learn I would get Griffiths as the primary text and buy the Schaums outline to give you a source of problems with solutions. Another option might be finding a universities EM class that gives homework and solutions and work through those as you cover the relevant material.
     
  8. May 22, 2012 #7
    Thank you very much for these suggestions. Buying Munkres, Griffiths, and Schaum's.

    This site is super helpful for physics majors. Should've made this account when I was a freshman.
     
  9. May 22, 2012 #8
    I also found a book by Loring W Tu, called Introduction to Manifolds, which I think looks alike an exellent introduction to a more topological approach to differential geometry (and includes differential topology). Maybe worth checking out.
     
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