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General Relativity 1St Edition Edition

43 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0226870335
ISBN-10: 0226870332
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Robert M. Wald is professor in the Department of Physics and the Enrico Fermi Institute at the University of Chicago. He is the author of Space, Time, and Gravity: The Theory of the Big Bang and Black Holes, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 506 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1St Edition edition (June 15, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226870332
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226870335
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

126 of 131 people found the following review helpful By David Dreisigmeyer on April 22, 2002
Format: Paperback
I found Wald's book to be better as an introduction than MTW. However, you'll probably want to get both books since you'll need them if you're going to really understand GR. Here are some points:
1) Wald is more concise than MTW. MTW tries to make differential geometry "intuitive" through some, in my opinion, poorly choosen concepts. So I found Wald to be much more understandable.
2) The book is much shorter than MTW so it is a little less daunting of a task. Wald still covers all the basics so you are not cheated out of any topics.
3) Do not expect to learn the differential geometry you need from Wald's Chapters 2 and 3 and appendices. A nice cheap book is Lovelock and Rund's "Tensors, Differential Forms and Variational Principles" (Dover). This book is surprisingly good and will cover the topics in a very understandable way in as few pages as possible. This allows you to get on with GR as quickly as possible. Read a chapter in Lovelock and Rund and then read the corresponding section in Wald. This allows you to understand both the concept and Wald's notation. I found the two books worked perfectly together.
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70 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Lee D. Carlson HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on January 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
There have been many books written on general relativity from both a physical and mathematical viewpoint, but this one stands out as one that is a hybrid between mathematical rigor and physical insight. It is certainly written for the physics student, but mathematicians interested in general relativity can certainly benefit from its perusal. I only read the first nine chapters of the book, so my review will be limited to these.
The first chapter is a short introduction to special relativity put in by the author for motivation. And, instead of introducing the mathematical formalism "as needed" in the book, the author chooses to outline it in detail in chapters two and three. The approach taken is a "modern" coordinate-free one, at least from the standpoint of differential geometry, but he delegates to an appendix the relevant background in topology. Since he is targeting the physicist reader, he does not hesitate to use diagrams to explain the concepts. The author introduces the idea of a dual vector using the example of a magnetic field. Tensors are then defined with great clarity from the standpoint of mathematical rigor. The physicist reader may have trouble digesting this if seeing tensors defined this way for the first time, instead of via their transformations properties, as is typically done. The abstract index notation is introduced to deal with the plethora of indices involved in manipulating tensors. In the treatment of geodesics, the author shows that it is sufficient to consider curves that are affinely parametrized, and the geodesic equation is derived in a coordinate basis. Riemannian and Gaussian normal coordinates are discussed as consequences of the unique solution of the geodesic equation.
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Muraari Vasudevan on August 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book was a little scary to read the first time I opened it. Abstract Indices all over. OMG, What does this upside down triangle mean? Where did this strange L come from? These are the sort of questions you will be asking yourself if you try to read this book without adequate preparation in Differential Geomtery. Sure Wald has 2 chapter devoted to this, but thats like asking you to learn all the vocabulary that you have in english from 5 little summary sheets. However once you do know soemthing about Riemannian Geomtery(an excellent elementary source is the book by Bishop and Goldberg "Tensor Analysis by Manifolds"), this book is a joy to read. Every explanation is crystal clear, and makes for a very enlightening experience overall. There's no need to read between the lines that some books expect you to, and Wald dosent insult his reader's intelligence either. This books is written for serious students of relativity, be it applied mathematicians or physicists. For the people willing to patiently read the book, and learn the details he presents, this book is probably the best preparation to general relativity. One complaint however is the noticeable shortage in exercises. And the ones supplied arent particularly difficult either. But all in all, an amazing read.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Ram on February 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
Wald's book was the standard text for two graduate courses in GR that I took during my PhD (one was an introductory grad course on GR and the other was an advance special topics course on black holes). The first six chapters lay the groundwork for classical GR, starting with a quick recap of the tensor notation (Wald's Index free notation is very useful), a little bit of differential geometry and the Einstien's equations. The Initial value problem of GR is treated in an elegant chapter that concludes the introduction. Advanced topics like black holes, area theorems, singularity theorems etc are treated in latter chapters, along with a nice chapter on QFT in curved space-time and the Hawking effect. I found Wald's book most useful for understanding the singularity theorems, which have been discussed very lucidly without sacrificing much rigor (some of the more technical details are best left to Hawking and Ellis).

There is a priceless discussion on Penrose diagrams, asymptotic infinity, ADM energy and the BMS group which to my knowledge have never appeared in another book (one has to go back to papers of Ashtekar and Penrose to find this information).

I had no prior exposure to differential geometry when I started reading the book (indeed my background at this point was an undergrad degree in Electronics, so my knowledge of physics when I took this course was rudimentary to say the least). I however found no difficulty in following this book, and indeed this book was the most exciting grad level book that I read until Polchinski's two tomes on String Theory. I would recommend Wald's book for anyone who likes to understand General Relativity and especially Black Hole Thermodynamics...and last but not least, the exercises in the book are all interesting and in some cases are pretty nontrivial. I learnt a lot of GR working out these exercises and highly recommend them to anybody studying this is definitely worth spending time on these exercises.
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