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Classical Which classical mechanics book has better content?

  1. May 22, 2017 #1
    Hey guys! I'm currently on my junior year and I will be taking advanced classical mechanics next semester. My lectures will consist mainly on Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics and I am currently in need of a good book in classical mechanics. I have used Kleppner and Kolenkow's An Introduction to Mechanics a year ago and I also have experience in vector calculus, differential equations, and linear algebra. Also, I'm going to take statistical mechanics, electrodynamics and quantum mechanics in the near future, so a good foundation in classical mechanics is needed.

    1. Classical Mechanics 3rd Edition by Goldstein, Poole, Safko (They say that this is the golden standard of all the classical mech books)

    2. Classical Mechanics 2nd Edition by Herbert Goldstein (I've heard that a chapter from the second edition was removed in the 3rd edition plus it's cheaper)

    3. Classical Dynamics of Particles and Systems 5th Edition by Thornton and Marion

    4. Classical Mechanics by Gregory

    5. Classical Mechanics by Taylor (I've seen good reviews with this book)
  2. jcsd
  3. May 22, 2017 #2
    Classical Mechanics by Goldstein is an excellent graduate level textbook. However, unless your background is unusually thorough for a upper undergraduate (i.e. Junior), you are better off with a good intermediate textbook. By the way, I prefer Goldstein 2nd edition to Goldstein third edition, but not because it is cheaper. I do not think the additional material from the added authors works well with the classical mechanics as it was presented in the second edition. There was plenty of material in the second edition, that is skipped by instructors to get into the fashionable material on chaos etc.
    I took chaos theory as a separate course and I think it belongs there, in favor or the advanced sections in Goldstein 2nd ed.

    Back to your problem. I think Marion and Thornton is the best of the books you listed for classical mechanics at the Junior level. It introduces Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulation.

    Another book that I recommend that I studied for my quals is an older book by Symon. Later chapters in Symon treat the General Theory of Relativity.
    (Interesting). I think Symon treats moment of inertia and rigid body motion in a clearer way than Marion and Thornton, but Marion and Thornton is also good.

    I have seen the other two books (Gregory, and Taylor) but I am not as familiar with them. From what I remember, Marion and Thornton is better.
  4. May 22, 2017 #3
    I'll definitely look into the Symon book. Seems very interesting in my opinion. Thanks a lot!
  5. May 23, 2017 #4


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    Landau&Lifshitz vol. 1 is short and to the point.
  6. May 23, 2017 #5
    Totally forgot about this classic. Thanks!
  7. May 23, 2017 #6
    Arnold Math Methods of Classical Mechanics
  8. May 23, 2017 #7
    I would not recommend Landau and Livshitz Mechanics or Arnold's Classical Methods for a upper undergraduate mechanics course. Especially for someone that had their last Mechanics course, out of Kleppner and Kolenkow, more than a year ago.

    Landau and Livshitz vol 1 is good, but it is too advanced for most undergraduates and too thin. Supplementing LL 1 with some material from LL2, classical theory of fields might work, but it is just too much a stretch from Kleppner and Kolenkow. Arnold might be a good book for a mathematical physicist but I would use it after a graduate text like Goldstein, certainly not before.

    The OP mentioned learning classical mechanics as a prelude to later QM courses. This is a good idea. I should mention Shankar's book on quantum mechanics contains excellent preparatory review material on classical mechanics and math preliminaries before introducing the quantum postulates. In this regard, I find Shankar's treatment better than (the more common) Sakurai's
  9. May 23, 2017 #8
    I'd like to suggest this one:
    Dynamics of Mechanical and Electromechanical Systems
    by Crandall, Karnopp, Kurtz, and Pridmore-Brown, McGraw-Hill, 1968.
    It is no doubt out of print, but I'd think you could still find it used. It has a remarkably good presentation of energy methods, making very clear distinctions between energy and co-energy all the way through. I recommend it most strongly.
  10. May 23, 2017 #9
    Don't forget Spivak . Somehow the Amazon Prices are crazy - not sure why.
  11. May 24, 2017 #10


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    But the more Landau/Lifshitz is the right choice. What you really need for QM is Hamiltonian mechanis in Poisson bracket formulation, and that's introduced quite well in Landau and Lifshitz. Arnold is great to, but way too far from standard-physics language to be of much help for studying QM. Of course, it's great to get the details about the mathematics behind the Hamiltonian formalism, i.e., the symplectic nature of phase space and all that. If you want to prepare in a more math-oriented way, I'd rather recommend to learn some basic theory about Lie groups and algebras and their representations (on the level of the good old book by Hamermesh or, more modern, Sexl&Urbandtke).
  12. May 24, 2017 #11
    Does the OP want to learn classical mechanics, or does he simply want to prepare for quantum mechanics? He mentions that he intends to take QM, but I did not read that this was really the sine qua non.
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