A revision of the defining book covering the physics and classical mathematics necessary to understand electromagnetic fields in materials and at surfaces and interfaces. The third edition has been revised to address the changes in emphasis and applications that have occurred in the past twenty years.
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(...but I wish I could!!!) The title of my review just about sums my opinion on this "classic" grad electrodynamics text. The book kind of [stinks] as a textbook, but there is nothing even remotely close to it in scope out there. So like a previous reviewer said: "Jackson's here to stay; GET USED TO IT!!" ...P>For those who still want my opinion on the specifics of this book (I promise, they won't help you-- you still have to get through Jackson!) I offer the following brief comments, some of which you may have heard before, some which may be new: (1) The problems are hard. Damn hard. Someone else already said that, and I agree. What I WILL add, however, is that some of the problems are also simply STUPID and a waste of time, offering or enhancing physical understanding very little if at all. (Don't get me wrong-- there are some problems which, while hard, are also pretty darn cool. Unfortunately, there are too many of the other kind, too.) The type of problems I am talking about are of the following ilk: "Prove the following six-term vector identity;" "Re-derive equation #72 for a transverse magnetic field'" "Prove equation #27." Quite simply: WHO CARES!?! (2) While the volume is pretty encyclopedic, it is often hard to follow. Jackson often simply states things in the text without explaining where they come from, how they are derived, or why they are important,--- for example, as I read the text, I began to hate the two words "we see," which are used is cases like (paraphrasing now) "Therefore, we see the following relationship holds"---when it was not at all clear to me where the heck this relationship was coming from! I often felt stupid because, in fact, I often did NOT "see" at all!!!Read more ›
For the last few decades, J.D. Jackson's book has been the standard textbook for graduate-level physics courses in electricity & magnetism. I don't think this is going to change: it presents and develops useful tools and it covers the topics needed (plus more). It's not perfect. In particular: - It CANNOT be used for an introduction. It assumes a very good understanding of the physics of E&M, as presented in an undergraduate course. - It is NOT intended for self-study. It was developed in the context of a lecture course, and this is what it supports. - The theoretical treatment does leave irritating holes in some presentations. - For some topics, the approach is not the most elegant. - The problems are hard. The problems are damn hard. Nonetheless, it covers an enormous amount of material in a way that can be referred to later (post-course), including mathematical tools and explicit formulas. This is quite useful, once you have suffered through it. If you want to LEARN ABOUT E&M, you can study other books, many of which have been mentioned by other reviews. But if you really need to be GROUNDED in E&M, you will probably have to study this book: you probably won't be given a choice by your professor. This doesn't mean you can't find other sources to supplement the presentation. It's probably a good idea, anyway, not to think you're going to be able to find everything in one book.
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Yes, it is very mathematically demanding. Yes, some of the discussions (particularly towards the ends of chapters) are thoroughly inpenetrable. And yes, each chapter features a few problems of the type "Show that (horrendous expression)=(even worse expression)=(multi-line, triple sum of modified Bessel functions expression)." But with a serious effort you'll make it through the first 3/4 of every chapter and >half the problems; the remaining parts are usually specialized topics anyway. The hardest part of studying this text is simply the large amount of time you need to invest; it doesn't read like Griffiths' book. And what did you expect, E&M to be easy? To those of you who truly hate this book (and judging by the reviews, there's a fair number of you), you might try the following substitutes/supplements: 1) Landau's Classical Theory of Fields: covers E&M in vacuo, with special relativity present from the beginning. Worked problems, E&M section is ~200 pages. 2) Mathews and Walker, Mathematical Methods- useful for special functions (Jackson's Chap. 3 presentation is somewhat brief). 3) Landau's Electrodynamics of Continuous Media- covers E&M in matter. I haven't used this one (yet), but people seem to love it. Again, worked problems. (Of course, find them in the library first!)
I am currently taking the second semester of a full-year course in graduate electrodynamics. We've been using Jackson as our main textbook, but the professor sometimes use his own collection of problems as our homeworks. I've just realize why he did it, some of the problems in Jackson are extremely difficult. However, I agree with another reviewer who stated that once you are armed with full mathematical apparatus, the book would be a gold mine of electrodynamics. My own method of study involves derivations of formulas, following the discussion in Jackson. This is really hardwork, but it worth the effort. For those who are mathematically deficient, I suggest you to have your Arfken ready beside you (G.B. Arfken, H.J. Weber, Mathematical Methods for Physicist, 5th edition, Academic Press, ISBN 0120598256). As far as I know, this is the only book still in printing that provide almost all mathematical tools required for Jackson: Vector analysis, coordinate systems, tensor analysis, Lorentz group, partial differential equations and separations of variables, Sturm-Liouville theory, Green functions, Laplace, Helmholtz, modified Helmholtz (wave) equations, Bessel functions, Legendre functions (including the second solution and vector spherical harmonics), Fourier series and transform, and many more. Jackson and Arfken are really pair, you can't learn Jackson without Arfken. For those whose lack physical insights and need to brush up your undergraduate electromagnetism, I recommended one and only one textbook: D.J. Griffiths Introduction to Electrodynamics. I compared the discussion in Griffiths and Jackson, and I surprised to find that there are some indentical choices of topics like Jefimenko's equations, potentials and fields, development of Maxwell tensor, even L.V.Read more ›