A Course in Mathematical Methods for Physicists  book cover
1st Edition

A Course in Mathematical Methods for Physicists

ISBN 9781466584679
Published December 4, 2013 by CRC Press
776 Pages 420 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Based on the author’s junior-level undergraduate course, this introductory textbook is designed for a course in mathematical physics. Focusing on the physics of oscillations and waves, A Course in Mathematical Methods for Physicists helps students understand the mathematical techniques needed for their future studies in physics. It takes a bottom-up approach that emphasizes physical applications of the mathematics. 

The book offers:

  • A quick review of mathematical prerequisites, proceeding to applications of differential equations and linear algebra
  • Classroom-tested explanations of complex and Fourier analysis for trigonometric and special functions
  • Coverage of vector analysis and curvilinear coordinates for solving higher dimensional problems
  • Sections on nonlinear dynamics, variational calculus, numerical solutions of differential equations, and Green's functions

Table of Contents

Introduction and Review
What Do I Need To Know From Calculus?
What I Need From My Intro Physics Class?
Technology and Tables
Appendix: Dimensional Analysis

Free Fall and Harmonic Oscillators
Free Fall
First Order Differential Equations
The Simple Harmonic Oscillator
Second Order Linear Differential Equations
LRC Circuits
Damped Oscillations
Forced Systems
Cauchy-Euler Equations
Numerical Solutions of ODEs
Numerical Applications
Linear Systems

Linear Algebra
Finite Dimensional Vector Spaces
Linear Transformations
Eigenvalue Problems
Matrix Formulation of Planar Systems
Appendix: Diagonalization and Linear Systems

Nonlinear Dynamics
The Logistic Equation
Autonomous First Order Equations
Bifurcations for First Order Equations
Nonlinear Pendulum
The Stability of Fixed Points in Nonlinear Systems
Nonlinear Population Models
Limit Cycles
Nonautonomous Nonlinear Systems
Exact Solutions Using Elliptic Functions

The Harmonics of Vibrating Strings
Harmonics and Vibrations
Boundary Value Problems
Partial Differential Equations
The 1D Heat Equation
The 1D Wave Equation
Introduction to Fourier Series
Fourier Trigonometric Series
Fourier Series Over Other Intervals
Sine and Cosine Series
Solution of the Heat Equation
Finite Length Strings
The Gibbs Phenomenon
Green’s Functions for 1D Partial Differential Equations
Derivation of Generic 1D Equations

Non-sinusoidal Harmonics and Special Functions
Function Spaces
Classical Orthogonal Polynomials
Fourier-Legendre Series
Gamma Function
Fourier-Bessel Series
Sturm-Liouville Eigenvalue Problems
Nonhomogeneous Boundary Value Problems - Green’s Functions
Appendix: The Least Squares Approximation
Appendix: The Fredholm Alternative Theorem

Complex Representations of Functions
Complex Representations of Waves
Complex Numbers
Complex Valued Functions
Complex Differentiation
Complex Integration

Transform Techniques in Physics
Complex Exponential Fourier Series
Exponential Fourier Transform
The Dirac Delta Function
Properties of the Fourier Transform
The Convolution Operation
The Laplace Transform
Applications of Laplace Transforms
The Convolution Theorem
The Inverse Laplace Transform
Transforms and Partial Differential Equations

Vector Analysis and EM Waves
Vector Analysis
Electromagnetic Waves
Curvilinear Coordinates

Extrema and Variational Calculus
Stationary and Extreme Values of Functions
The Calculus of Variations
Hamilton’s Principle

Problems in Higher Dimensions
Vibrations of Rectangular Membranes
Vibrations of a Kettle Drum
Laplace’s Equation in 2D
Three Dimensional Cake Baking
Laplace’s Equation and Spherical Symmetry
Schrödinger Equation in Spherical Coordinates
Solution of the 3D Poisson Equation
Green’s Functions for Partial Differential Equations

Review of Sequences and Infinite Series
Sequences of Real Numbers
Convergence of Sequences
Limit Theorems
Infinite Series
Convergence Tests
Sequences of Functions
Infinite Series of Functions
Special Series Expansions
The Order of Sequences and Functions

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Russell L. Herman

Featured Author Profiles

Author - Russell L. Herman

Russell L. Herman

Professor Mathematics/Professor Physics, UNC Wilmington
Wilmington, NC, USA

Learn more about Russell L. Herman »


"… a welcome and refreshing addition to a rich body of literature. … should fit into the sophomore or junior year of a typical physics undergraduate curriculum. … Engineers and chemistry majors, too, would benefit from taking such an intermediate-level course, perhaps even more so than from a higher-level one. Our own department at Howard University is considering a mid-level math methods course, and I would definitely recommend this textbook as well suited. A Course in Mathematical Methods for Physicists includes plenty of interesting worked-out examples, many of them quite realistic, and uses them to introduce concepts in a reasonable progression. …
Although the subject of mathematical methods has inspired many valuable texts, Herman’s approach, motivated by the physics applications, is novel, seldom used by other authors. The myriad well-chosen worked-out examples and other strengths have earned my firm endorsement …"
—Tristan Hübsch, Howard University, Washington, District of Columbia, USA, from Physics Today

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