### Post by Admin on Nov 8, 2016 17:13:10 GMT

Most Korean and American universities offer one or two semester course titled "Mathematical Physics" or "Mathematical Methods of Physics" for sophomore physics majors, who have already studied multivariable calculus and linear algebra in their freshman year. However, the one I attended (Harvard) didn't offer such a course, so I never took such a course. Instead I ended up taking a complex analysis course offered by math department.

Even though I never took such a course, I never had any mathematical difficulties as far as undergraduate physics courses were concerned, except for one occasion: (Of course, if you consider graduate level physics courses, it is a whole different matter, as subjects such as string theory use esoteric math.) In my freshman year I took a physics course on wave, which is normally taken by sophomores, and there was a homework problem for which a knowledge on complex analysis would be helpful. Anyhow, if I had taken the wave class in sophomore year, then I would have already known the required knowledge on complex analysis from the complex anlaysis course that I would have been concurrently taking. So, there would have been absolutely no problem at all, even without taking "mathematical physics" course.

Therefore, if you ask me whether you should study undergraduate mathematical physics textbook such as Arfken, I can confidently answer that you will do well without it as long as you have a solid background in multivariable calculus and linear algebra from your freshman math classes; even though in your electromagnetism class or quantum mechanics class you may encounter several "special functions" which are covered in detail in Arfken, you can learn their essence in your respective physics classes. Of course that is not to say that I advise you not to take mathematical physics course if your university offers one. Neither am I saying that it is a waste of money to buy Arfken or any other undergraduate mathematical physics textbook. Not only do most undergraduate mathematical physics textbooks cover multivariable calculus, linear algebra, complex analysis and other essential topics in manners more suitable for physics students, but also they are valuable as references. For example, I had to look up Arfken of my officemate's to do a research on black hole entropy. I knew the existence of special functions which satisfy the properties I wanted. All I needed to do was looking up Arfken instead of remembering the wanted special function top off my head.

One thing is sure. You do not need to study Arfken thoroughly from cover to cover, especially the part on special functions. Moreover, even though Arfken is regarded as the standard textbook, it is known not to be easy to follow for first-timers. I actually read a couple of chapters of "Mathematical methods for physics and engineering" by Riley, Hobson and Bence, and found it easier to follow. I also heard some people say "Mathematical methods in the physical sciences" by Boas is good.

Even though I never took such a course, I never had any mathematical difficulties as far as undergraduate physics courses were concerned, except for one occasion: (Of course, if you consider graduate level physics courses, it is a whole different matter, as subjects such as string theory use esoteric math.) In my freshman year I took a physics course on wave, which is normally taken by sophomores, and there was a homework problem for which a knowledge on complex analysis would be helpful. Anyhow, if I had taken the wave class in sophomore year, then I would have already known the required knowledge on complex analysis from the complex anlaysis course that I would have been concurrently taking. So, there would have been absolutely no problem at all, even without taking "mathematical physics" course.

Therefore, if you ask me whether you should study undergraduate mathematical physics textbook such as Arfken, I can confidently answer that you will do well without it as long as you have a solid background in multivariable calculus and linear algebra from your freshman math classes; even though in your electromagnetism class or quantum mechanics class you may encounter several "special functions" which are covered in detail in Arfken, you can learn their essence in your respective physics classes. Of course that is not to say that I advise you not to take mathematical physics course if your university offers one. Neither am I saying that it is a waste of money to buy Arfken or any other undergraduate mathematical physics textbook. Not only do most undergraduate mathematical physics textbooks cover multivariable calculus, linear algebra, complex analysis and other essential topics in manners more suitable for physics students, but also they are valuable as references. For example, I had to look up Arfken of my officemate's to do a research on black hole entropy. I knew the existence of special functions which satisfy the properties I wanted. All I needed to do was looking up Arfken instead of remembering the wanted special function top off my head.

One thing is sure. You do not need to study Arfken thoroughly from cover to cover, especially the part on special functions. Moreover, even though Arfken is regarded as the standard textbook, it is known not to be easy to follow for first-timers. I actually read a couple of chapters of "Mathematical methods for physics and engineering" by Riley, Hobson and Bence, and found it easier to follow. I also heard some people say "Mathematical methods in the physical sciences" by Boas is good.