1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Who wants to be a Physicist

  1. Aug 18, 2007 #1
    Hi guys,

    I've read the 'who wants to be a mathematician' thread, which mentions Zapher's guide to 'who wants to be a physicist' but can't find it anywhere.

    My end goal is to become a hobbist in theoretical physicist, but it's been so long since I've done any math and since I'm a bit of a purist, I've decided to start from scratch. Here is the path that I'm aiming for:

    1. Modern Algebra (Seth Warner)
    2. Calculus (Apostle or Spivak)
    3. Geometry (haven't decided)
    4. Statistics (haven't decided)

    Once my math is up to scratch, I plan on completing 'Course of Theoretical Physics' by Landau and Lif****z.

    Any comments on whether or not this will get me to my end goal?

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 18, 2007 #2

    Doc Al

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Here you go: ZapperZ's "So You Want To Be A Physicist"

    That thread should be a sticky.
  4. Aug 18, 2007 #3
    "Invalid Thread specified. If you followed a valid link, please notify the administrator" :(
  5. Aug 18, 2007 #4

    Doc Al

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

  6. Aug 18, 2007 #5
    Being more on the experimental side, I really have no idea what would be a good preparation for theoretical physics. But if I may ask, why do you want to learn algebra (that is, formal algebra, not "school algebra")? I know that theoretical physicists tend to use a few tools from algebra like group theory. But for the most part, I'm not sure that this would be all that useful, since most of us who learned physics in school usually picked up the math on the fly. I was a math major in my undergraduate, and while the math I learned was interesting in its own right, most of my classes weren't particularly helpful for physics purposes. For example, I learned most of my calculus, differential equations, and partial differential equations from my physics classes. There were a few useful math classes I took, like complex variables, applied linear algebra, and numerical analysis. However, in general I've found that math math is different from physics math.

    Anyway, I'm really no expert, since I'm only a first year grad student. But it seems to me that algebra might not be the most useful tool for theoretical physics.
  7. Aug 18, 2007 #6
    You may want to check out the books I recommend in this thread.


    They are precisely the books I used on a similar path to yours (a rigorous treatment of the mathematics necessary for physics). To that list, I'd recommend the standard graduate level analysis books also recommended in the above thread (rudin/royden).

    If you want less pure math, and more mathematical physics oriented books, some standards are:
    Arfken - Mathematical Methods for Physicists
    Mathews/Walker - Mathematical Methods of Physics
    Byron/Fuller - Mathematics of Classical and Quantum Physics

    I haven't used Landau for the main physics texts. I used:
    Shankar for QM
    Arnold (Mathematical Methods of Classical Mechanics) for mechanics
    Jackson (Classical Electrodynamics) for EM
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2007
  8. Aug 19, 2007 #7

    Wow, thanks for that link and thanks to Zz for writing it.
  9. Aug 19, 2007 #8
    landau and lifshiz are very difficult texts.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook