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Which E&M book is better?

  1. Dec 28, 2009 #1
    I have been studied to Purcell's book.

    And, this semester finished so i'm finding another book.

    Professor recommanded me the Jackson's book.

    Which one will be better?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 29, 2009 #2


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    Griffiths (lower level than Jackson) and Landau & Lifschitz (same level as Jackson) are also good books.
  4. Dec 29, 2009 #3

    George Jones

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    And between Griffiths and Jackson is Vanderlinde.
  5. Dec 29, 2009 #4
    Thank you....
    I'll choose Griffiths' one
  6. Dec 29, 2009 #5
    Jackson is graduate level book, it is much more difficult. Griffin is an under grad book only. Both are Electro Dynamic books. I study and really like Fields and Waves Electro Magnetic by David Cheng. It is very different from the other two, it is mainly for electronic engineering, it is more into phasor, transmission lines, cavity resonance and antennas.

    I use Griffin as a reference and I don't particular like it. Depend what EM you are into, consider Cheng. I have all of them, I am into RF and microwave rather physics and Jackson is too advance for me but not cover stuff I want. Cheng is similar or a little higher level than Griffin but is very different. I have many other EM books like Kraus, Popovic, Ulabi, Hayt and Schwarz. Hands down Cheng is the best.
  7. Dec 30, 2009 #6
    I'm going to major Physics...

    but, your recommendation seems to nice.

    i'll take a look at the library
  8. Jan 2, 2010 #7
    I am very serious in studying EM, if you are like me that like to derive a many formula as you can instead of just take the words of the book, Cheng's book is as close as it gets for you. My book is all taped up and glue back because it has been used so much. I can't even buy another one because I put a lot of steps that I derive the formulas in it and a lot of notes also. The last two chapters, I have to copy it and study the copy instead of touching the book!!!

    Even if you get the Griffith book, you are going to need help from the Cheng's book if you study on your own. I reference to Griffith book many times, I never really found anything that Chengs have not explained in Griffith. But you have no choice because you are on the physics side and Griffith seem to be the book for undergrad.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2010
  9. Jan 2, 2010 #8


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    Griffiths is not only an undergrad book - it's the sort of book that is great for learning the material for the first time, at an undergraduate level, but even afterwards it makes a very useful reference. (I speak from experience) If you're prepared, Griffiths should quite sufficient for self-study, at least to the extent that any one book can be sufficient by itself.

    The other classic is, of course, Jackson, but that is much more detailed than Griffiths. Unless you are a Certified Genius :wink:, you'd have little chance of learning this material by studying Jackson alone.
  10. Jan 2, 2010 #9
    My friend told me not only you have to have the under grad course on EM, you have to complete real analysis and complex analysis on top of PDE before even touch Jackson.
  11. Jan 2, 2010 #10
    I can't think of anything in either course that would make them necessary preparation for Jackson.
  12. Jan 2, 2010 #11
  13. Jan 2, 2010 #12


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    I already mentioned L&L.
  14. Jan 2, 2010 #13
    He is the guru in EM, I just took his words. Also for example you really don't need PDE for undergrad EM class, even for graduate engineering EM class. But it sure help.

    I bought books on both subjects. I found the real analysis cover a lot of the functions I've seen in different books before, I think there is advantage on taking real analysis. I don't know about the complex analysis though. I never have any problem working through the phasor, travelling wave, transmission lines chapters in the EM books. In fact these are my stronger subjects.
  15. Jan 3, 2010 #14
    I skimmed the books that i have been recommended here.

    At first, Landau's book starts with relativity. and it seems that almost material goes with relativity.

    In purcell's book, i studied about relativity a little, but one that in landau seems more general.

    And Cheng's book..... i was happy about the material about EM waves.

    In purcell's book that i used, the EM wave was considered little I think.

    In Vanderlinde's book, at first, it works with E, M both fields. and mathmatically...... hard

    Some problems are supporting that lack.
    But Cheng's book, The EM was well considered.

    So i think, in static part, Vanderlinde's one is appropriate, and if i need more supplementory, studying cheng's one will be good.

    Thank you everybody.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2010
  16. Jan 3, 2010 #15


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    Yeah, L&L's use of relativity is definitely on a higher level than Purcell's. Essentially, Purcell's book is an introductory book, so it uses only the most basic concepts out of special relativity and even those are developed in an appendix. Landau's book is written for more advanced students who are assumed to be already familiar with SR.

    I really wouldn't compare Purcell's book to any of the others mentioned here; they're targeted at very different audiences.
  17. Jan 3, 2010 #16
    My experience is you really have to have a few of the books. No one book can fill the bill. Different books are good at different topics.
    I am studying from the RF, microwave engineering side, I am not familiar with a lot of the books mentioned here because I bought a set of book on engineering EM instead. Every book has a different way to present the materials and is good to read different point of view. Like the EM book by Popovic I mentioned, no way this book is good enough to be the main text book. But the explanation is so far out the left field that I found it interesting to read just to get a different point of view and sometime it really surprised me that it actually clarify my question!!!! Even I study engineering EM, I still own the Griffith and Jackson as reference and in case I want to cross over to the DARK side!!!!

    Not to mention I do verify the equation. They do have mistake. The EM books are so much more establish that there are usually very few errors, but I did catch some. Believe me, I study a lot of the RF, microwave coupled lines books and PLL books, they have so many typos it is not even funny. I remember I post the typos of a PLL book by Roland Best on Amazon, he actually reply back and offer to send me the latest copy!!!!

    So get at least 3 of your top choice. I always do five myself.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2010
  18. Jan 3, 2010 #17
    I see! The sun was reflecting off my monitor yesterday when I logged on here, I guess that caused me to miss your post.
  19. Jan 3, 2010 #18

    George Jones

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    Make sure that you use the second edition, as it corrects a number of mistakes that occur in the first edition.
  20. Jan 3, 2010 #19
    The more advance the book, the more mistake they have!!!! Those typos really really slow you down. You can't move on because if it does not make sense, you don't know whether you understand the subject wrong or what. Every time that happened, I had to read through two other books, re-adapt myself to the new nomencratures to get to the point to compare. And have to take "two out of three" approach a lot of times!!!!
  21. Jan 3, 2010 #20
    Your friend is BSing. Jackson is self contained. Although, you may need some Complex Analysis and PDEs, mostly for the exersizes.

    Jackson is "intermediate" (in my opinion) with Schwinger being a bit more advanced(and better written). Remember, EM, like Classical Mechanics, can be(and should be) taught using topology.
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