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Mathematical Methods for Physicists: A Comprehensive Guide [Hardcover]

George B. Arfken , Hans J. Weber , Frank E. Harris
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 21 2005 0120598760 978-0120598762 6
This best-selling title provides in one handy volume the essential mathematical tools and techniques used to solve problems in physics. It is a vital addition to the bookshelf of any serious student of physics or research professional in the field. The authors have put considerable effort into revamping this new edition.

* Updates the leading graduate-level text in mathematical physics
* Provides comprehensive coverage of the mathematics necessary for advanced study in physics and engineering
* Focuses on problem-solving skills and offers a vast array of exercises
* Clearly illustrates and proves mathematical relations

New in the Sixth Edition:
* Updated content throughout, based on users' feedback
* More advanced sections, including differential forms and the elegant forms of Maxwell's equations
* A new chapter on probability and statistics
* More elementary sections have been deleted

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Review

"As to a comparison with other books of the same ilk, well, in all honesty, there are none. No other text on methods of mathematical physics is as comprehensive and as complete...I encourage the students to keep their copies as they will need it and will find it an invaluable reference resource in later studies and research."
- Tristan Hubsch, Howard University


Book Description

More that 90,000 copies sold!

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
In science and engineering we frequently encounter quantities that have magnitude and magnitude only: mass, time, and temperature. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear, concise, comprehensive and stimulating. Sept. 30 2003
Format:Hardcover
I had used Arfken as my source text for the mathematical physics option of the first year undergraduate physics course at Oxford back in 1990. For this purpose at least, the text had seemed perfect. It covered all of the required mathematical techniques (only the chapters on Group Theory, Integral Equations, and Nonlinear Methods were unnecessary) at just the right (i.e. rather fast) pace and with just the right amount of detail. The exercises were chosen well to ensure that underlying concepts became vividly engraved into ones mind and provided fine preparation for the examinations ahead. I should confess to having thoroughly enjoyed working through the algebraic-manipulation-filled exercises in Chapters 9 (Sturm-Louiville Theory) through 13 (Special Functions) - which perhaps says something about the kind of people who might enjoy this book.
The conciseness of the text (which is the reason it has been possible to cover so much ground) is probably most useful only to students of well-above-average mathematical ability, and may provide insufficient support to those who find themselves struggling with the concepts introduced. Nevertheless, more able students can expect rapidly to become proficient in tackling the kinds of problems which arise in mathematical physics and engineering in later life.
I give the book five stars as I still have great fondness for it from my undergraduate days, and continue to refer to it (and indeed to refer my students to it) today for the vast array of useful mathematical techniques which it covers. While it may not be the best book for those who find mathematics a chore, it should be a delight for those with a natural flair for the subject and with a mathematical physics bent.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Encyclopedic but thats all Sept. 11 2003
Format:Hardcover
The best thing that can be said about this book is that it reads like some kind of encyclopedia of physics math ( and not a complete one at that). There is a lot here but the author is another one of those who believes the student is best served by working it out for himself. That may be true but it is also the easy way out for textbook writers and teachers. Also, the course should at least be set up so that the student can find out the correct answer. My experience is that the mathematical physics courses that use this book are not. At the time this book first came out there was no other suitable book. That, unfortunately, is how so many of the physics texts become classics, not by being useful or good. Also, the treatment is mostly of very classical mathematical physics. I pity the student who attempts to get a good background in group theory from this book for use in GR or particle theory. Better books exist nowadays partly as a reaction to this book. Find one you like and use it.
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2.0 out of 5 stars NOT for (aspiring) theoretical physicists Nov. 23 2001
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Arfken's book is not meant for anyone who has his mind set on theoretical physics, be it superstrings or quantum chaos or anything of the sort, simply because of its use of the old methods of vector calculus (and its brother, tensor calculus). Instead of discussing differential forms, lie groups, differentiable manifolds and things of theoretical interest, he spends hundreds of pages on all sorts of odd equations which you'll probably never run into during your lifetime except in a course on mathematical physics. Perhaps engineers might adopt a different view, since they tend to deal more with differential equations - I'm talking from the theoretical perspective. I would recommend Hassani's book instead of Arfken's for these matters. Make sure you check it out before you decide on buying Arfken's book!
I will not deny it has its value as a reference, but even as such it also has its faults -many results are not demonstrated or even stated in the text, and are left as exercises for the reader. If this is supposed to be a reference, where are the results???
Another problem this book has is that it lacks any sort of unifying theme, e.g., recasting mathematical physics using exterior calculus, or using vector spaces. Again, this might be a good thing when using it as a reference, but then again, I already mentioned it stinks as a reference as well. There are many books out there that summarize neatly the properties of all of the special functions you'll need in your lifetime.
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By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I've tried to use Arfken's book for learning new mathematical concepts. For this it is totally useless. There are only few examples, and they are not very informative. Important theorems are sometimes only quickly mentioned, some are only implicitly suggested. And the exercises seem to expect a whole lot more mathematical knowledge than the text gives. Of course there are no answers to most of the exercises.
Especially undergraduates (at least not the very brilliant ones like me) should really, REALLY get themselves some other book. Try related titles from Schaum's Outline series, for example.
However, I've also used this book later on as a reference text when I've forgotten some concept that I had already learned earlier. For this purpose Arfken is ok. Usually you find the information you are looking for quickly and find a formula or two you can use.
But all things considered it really isn't worth the money. Arfken is a terrible example of the way text books should not be written.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars No complaints!
Shipping was very fast. I saved a lot of money buying this textbook online. The book arrived quickly and in brand new condition, not a mark on it. Highly recommended!
Published 24 months ago by mclame
5.0 out of 5 stars A breif and complete book
I borrowed this book from the univerity library and now I am buying it because it has almost all math topics which a physics or engineering undergrad level student needs. Read more
Published on July 20 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars Needs elaboration: Add 5 pages per page.
I am convinced that the author of this book has made the assumption that the reader has had pretty significant exposure to most of this already. Read more
Published on May 29 2004
2.0 out of 5 stars Not good to learn from
I used this book in a Math Methods 1st year Graduate Physics course, and I dont think I really learned anything from it. Read more
Published on May 6 2004 by C. Bradley
1.0 out of 5 stars A salad of typos
I have had the misfortune to teach from several editions of this pathetic textbook. The later printings of the 3d edition, by Arfken alone, were quite free of mistakes and of... Read more
Published on April 6 2004 by Kevin Cahill
5.0 out of 5 stars Great text for reference and learning
I noticed that most student reviews seemed to disparage this book as a textbook, so I am writing this to provide an alternative veiwpoint. Read more
Published on Oct. 28 2003 by Alexander A. Kane
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't plan on learning anything from this
Great for reference, TERRIBLE to learn from. I am trying to use this required text in a course that is not teaching the student ANYTHING. Read more
Published on Sept. 18 2003
2.0 out of 5 stars Needs help
Long and short of it is that the book touches on so many subjects that it really doesn't spend enough time on any one. Read more
Published on Sept. 3 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars maybe a good book, but not for physicists ....
We had to use this book in our graduate physics course 10 years ago. I did not like it, because it lacks rigor. Read more
Published on Aug. 24 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars Only for those who are already familiar with the material
So you know who's writing this, I'm a grad student in Mechanical Engineering.
This book is definitely not for anyone who is not already familiar with the subjects in the book,... Read more
Published on Nov. 26 2002
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