Mathematical Methods for Physicists: A Comprehensive Guide, Edition 7

Academic Press
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Now in its 7th edition, Mathematical Methods for Physicists continues to provide all the mathematical methods that aspiring scientists and engineers are likely to encounter as students and beginning researchers. This bestselling text provides mathematical relations and their proofs essential to the study of physics and related fields. While retaining the key features of the 6th edition, the new edition provides a more careful balance of explanation, theory, and examples. Taking a problem-solving-skills approach to incorporating theorems with applications, the book's improved focus will help students succeed throughout their academic careers and well into their professions. Some notable enhancements include more refined and focused content in important topics, improved organization, updated notations, extensive explanations and intuitive exercise sets, a wider range of problem solutions, improvement in the placement, and a wider range of difficulty of exercises.
  • Revised and updated version of the leading text in mathematical physics
  • Focuses on problem-solving skills and active learning, offering numerous chapter problems
  • Clearly identified definitions, theorems, and proofs promote clarity and understanding

New to this edition:

  • Improved modular chapters
  • New up-to-date examples
  • More intuitive explanations
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About the author

Frank E. Harris was awarded his A. B. (Chemistry) from Harvard University in 1951 and his Ph.D. (Physical Chemistry) from University of California in 1954. The author of 244 research publications and multiple books, Dr. Harris has been a Professor of Physics and Chemistry, University of Utah and Resident Adjunct Professor of Chemistry, Quantum Theory Project, University of Florida. He served on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Quantum Chemistry, and has been named a Fellow for both the American Institute of Chemists and the American Physical Society.

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Additional Information

Academic Press
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Published on
Dec 26, 2011
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Science / Physics / General
Science / Physics / Mathematical & Computational
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Essentials of Math Methods for Physicists aims to guide the student in learning the mathematical language used by physicists by leading them through worked examples and then practicing problems. The pedagogy is that of introducing concepts, designing and refining methods and practice them repeatedly in physics examples and problems. Geometric and algebraic approaches and methods are included and are more or less emphasized in a variety of settings to accommodate different learning styles of students.

Comprised of 19 chapters, this book begins with an introduction to the basic concepts of vector algebra and vector analysis and their application to classical mechanics and electrodynamics. The next chapter deals with the extension of vector algebra and analysis to curved orthogonal coordinates, again with applications from classical mechanics and electrodynamics. These chapters lay the foundations for differential equations, variational calculus, and nonlinear analysisin later discussions. High school algebra of one or two linear equations is also extended to determinants and matrix solutions of general systems of linear equations, eigenvalues and eigenvectors, and linear transformations in real and complex vector spaces. The book also considers probability and statistics as well as special functions and Fourier series. Historical remarks are included that describe some physicists and mathematicians who introduced the ideas and methods that were perfected by later generations to the tools routinely used today.

This monograph is intended to help undergraduate students prepare for the level of mathematics expected in more advanced undergraduate physics and engineering courses.
This book is for physics students interested in the mathematics they use and for mathematics students interested in seeing how some of the ideas of their discipline find realization in an applied setting. The presentation tries to strike a balance between formalism and application, between abstract and concrete. The interconnections among the various topics are clarified both by the use of vector spaces as a central unifying theme, recurring throughout the book, and by putting ideas into their historical context. Enough of the essential formalism is included to make the presentation self-contained.

The book is divided into eight parts: The first covers finite- dimensional vector spaces and the linear operators defined on them. The second is devoted to infinite-dimensional vector spaces, and includes discussions of the classical orthogonal polynomials and of Fourier series and transforms. The third part deals with complex analysis, including complex series and their convergence, the calculus of residues, multivalued functions, and analytic continuation. Part IV treats ordinary differential equations, concentrating on second-order equations and discussing both analytical and numerical methods of solution. The next part deals with operator theory, focusing on integral and Sturm--Liouville operators. Part VI is devoted to Green's functions, both for ordinary differential equations and in multidimensional spaces. Parts VII and VIII contain a thorough discussion of differential geometry and Lie groups and their applications, concluding with Noether's theorem on the relationship between symmetries and conservation laws.

Intended for advanced undergraduates or beginning graduate students, this comprehensive guide should also prove useful as a refresher or reference for physicists and applied mathematicians. Over 300 worked-out examples and more than 800 problems provide valuable learning aids.

Numerous enhancements and revision are incorporated into this new edition. For example, fiber bundle techniques are used to introduce differential geometry. This more elegant and intuitive approach naturally connects differential geometry with not only the general theory of relativity, but also gauge theories of fundamental forces.

Some praise for the previous edition:

PAGEOPH [Pure and Applied Geophysics]

Review by Daniel Wojcik, University of Maryland

"This volume should be a welcome addition to any collection. The book is well written and explanations are usually clear. Lives of famous mathematicians and physicists are scattered within the book. They are quite extended, often amusing, making nice interludes. Numerous exercises help the student practice the methods introduced. ... I have recently been using this book for an extended time and acquired a liking for it. Among all the available books treating mathematical methods of physics this one certainly stands out and assuredly it would suit the needs of many physics readers."


Review by G.Roepstorff, University of Aachen, Germany

"... Unlike most existing texts with the same emphasis and audience, which are merely collections of facts and formulas, the present book is more systematic, self-contained, with a level of presentation that tends to be more formal and abstract. This entails proving a large number of theorems, lemmas, and corollaries, deferring most of the applications that physics students might be interested in to the example sections in small print. Indeed, there are 350 worked-out examples and about 850 problems. ... A very nice feature is the way the author intertwines the formalism with the life stories and anecdotes of some mathematicians and physicists, leading at their times. As is often the case, the historical view point helps to understand and appreciate the ideas presented in the text. ... For the physics student in the middle of his training, it will certainly prove to be extremely useful."


Review by Paul Davies, Orion Productions, Adelaide, Australia

"I am pleased to have so many topics collected in a single volume. All the tricks are there of course, but supported by sufficient rigour and substantiation to make the dedicated mathematical physicist sigh with delight."


"This book is a condensed exposition of the mathematics that is met in most parts of physics. The presentation attains a very good balance between the formal introduction of concepts, theorems and proofs on one hand, and the applied approach on the other, with many examples, fully or partially solved problems, and historical remarks. An impressive amount of mathematics is covered. ... This book can be warmly recommended as a basic source for the study of mathematics for advanced undergraduates or beginning graduate students in physics and applied mathematics, and also as a reference book for all working mathematicians and physicists."

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