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Serway's College Physics vs. Halliday, Resnick, Krane's Physics?

  1. Jun 13, 2010 #1
    Which of the following books is the greatest physics book at the basic introductory level?

    College Physics, 7th edition

    Physics Vol I and Vol II, 4th edition
    Halliday, Resnick, Krane

    Physics, 5th edition
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 13, 2010 #2
    Well to be honest they're both pretty much at the same level and cover the same topics so I think it's probably a matter of which one is cheaper.
  4. Jun 13, 2010 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    Serway/Vuille's "College Physics" and Giancoli's "Physics: Principles and Applications" use only algebra and trigonometry. Halliday/Resnick/Krane use calculus. So the first two are not comparable to the last one.

    For a comparison of "apples to apples" you need to compare

    Halliday/Resnick/Krane, "Physics" (or Halliday/Resnick/Walker, "Fundamentals of Physics")
    Giancoli, "Physics for Scientists and Engineers"
    Serway/Jewett, "Physics for Scientists and Engineers"
    These three all use calculus.

    In the second group, Halliday/Resnick/Krane, Giancoli "Physics for Scientists and Engineers", and Serway/Jewett are comparable in coverage. I think which one is "best" is basically a matter of personal preference.

    Likewise in the first group, Serway/Vuille and Giancoli "Physics: Principles and Applications" are comparable non-calculus books.
  5. Jun 13, 2010 #4
    Oh oops, I didn't realize those were the algebra only variants. Like jtbell said, both Giancoli and Serway/Jewett have calculus based books that are comparable to Halliday/Resnick.

    If, for whatever reason you want an algebra based book, I can recommend Alan Giambattista's book.
  6. Jun 13, 2010 #5
    Is it smarter to use a Calculus-based book in one's study of Physics?
  7. Jun 13, 2010 #6
    Lets not forget Young and Freedman.

    Personally, I am not a big fan of plain ol "Physics" by Halliday Resnick and Krane. Its only been revised like 3 times in the last 40 years. My old community college prof said thats a good thing, it means they got it right the first time.

    Personally, I think the book is extremely dry. It does get to the point real quick, without wasting too much of your time with colorful pictures and interesting historical quips. But I personally like pictures, color and interesting stories to go in between all the physics. So I'll take it when I can get it and if I have a choice.

    Halliday and Resnick do put out "Fundamentals of Physics for Sci and Eng" which is revised regularly and is a lot more interesting to read. Its still calculus based, it still covers everything that "Physics" does and it contains alot of the same problems that "Physics" does. SO you dont loose anything by going with "Fundamentals"

    Serway and Jewett and Young and Freedman (my personal fav) are comparable. I have all 4 (Serway, Young, and both Halliday and Resnicks) and they are pretty much comparable. If your not using this for a class, then Id say get an edition thats 1 or 2 editions old for next to nothing.
  8. Jun 13, 2010 #7
    Im sure it just depends on what you want to use the physics for. If your just trying to learn more about the subject in general, you know at a conversational level, you're prob better off getting a conceptual physics book.

    I do think its good "training" to start off with a algebra/trig based book. While alot of the formulas and such in mechanics are derived using calculus in calc based books, you usually only use the results of those derivations. Most probs in mechanics in calc based books are solved using regular ol algebra and trig.

    Granted, calc is used alot more in lower div E&M (Faradays, AMperes, Gauss's...etc) and QM (Shrodinger Equation, statistical mechanics), but it hurts you none to go over mechanics, e&m and QM using algebra and trig to learn how to solve problems. Lets face it, the hardest to learn when we first take physics is how to properly setup a problem using your physical intuition. So best to get your training started without worrying about the calc. Thats just my opinion.
  9. Jun 13, 2010 #8
    What's a good conceptual-based book, then?
  10. Jun 13, 2010 #9
    Paul G Hewitt's "Conceptual Physics" I've looked at before and its pretty good. Its exactly what the title says...conceptual. Not much math (basic math), and just a lot of good basic info.

    For something more serious, the Serway "college physics" that you mentioned before is really good for a Algebra/Trig level book.
  11. Jun 13, 2010 #10
    If College Physics is a great Algebra level book, what is matches its greatness at the Calculus level?
  12. Jun 13, 2010 #11
    Serways Calc level book, young and freedmans "University Physics" calc level book, Halliday and Resnicks "Fundamentals" (and Im sure alot of peeps would say "Physics" as well).

    Like other people said, the major calc-based physics books are all pretty equal. I personally love how YnF's treat mechanics and modern physics and I really like the way serway cover E/M
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