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Physics: Principles with Applications with MasteringPhysics (6th Edition)
Physics: Principles with Applications with MasteringPhysics (6th Edition)
by Douglas C. Giancoli
Edition: Hardcover
43 used & new from $31.59

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you are a serious student, you can't go wrong with Giancoli., February 29, 2012
This textbook on algebra-based physics --compare to the calculus-based version for scientists and engineers-- was recommended to me by the program managers at a small private architecture school, where I taught a fundamentals of physics class, three times in a row over the academic year 2010-2011. At the time the school was going through an arduous certification process by the NAAB (a high level national agency) and the managers wanted to revive the course in their program after it had been neglected for several years. Consequently, when I started teaching the first two terms, I used to get a class of size 45+ with many seniors on the brink of graduation and only lacking a general education physics class on their transcripts. There was also not a lab portion, only 3 hours per week of theoretical instruction. The nice thing was the complete autonomy I was given in deciding what to cover, how to cover things, and the structuring of the course/syllabus material. The class after all may have been just a formality but to many peoples' surprise, we treated the proceeds in a truly serious manner. In the first two terms I covered chapters 1-12 (finishing with waves and sound) but in the third try, I managed to cover 1-15 which included three chapters on thermodynamics. The students were generally not too interested nor had the time to indulge (being caught up with their studio projects), and many would even refuse to buy the pricey textbook and only resorting to borrowing it from the library once there was a direct necessity. In fact in all three quarters, I evaluated the students by giving two take-home midterms (eventually 30% each, after factoring out the 10% for attendance due to difficulties to track attendance & participation), and an in-class final exam which consisted of 40% of the grade. The homework was assigned but not collected nor factored into the scale, in large part again due to a lack of assistants or time on my own part as an adjunct professor for grading the papers. There were eventually only a very handful of A or B grades in my classes, with most students ending up somewhere on C+ or - (with a D still being a passing score in this particular school.) I used the standard 90-100 for A, 80-89 for B, and 70-79 for C, etc. without a curving scheme in place to streamline the proceeds and also discourage students from forming a coalition to score low on the exams and artificially bringing the course average down.

I was deploying and going over the CourseCompass-provided lecture slides and power point quizzes during the class time for presentations and those really helped with keeping things organized eventhough many students in this Southern California town were showing deficiencies in their science backgrounds and a lack of intuition for many real-life phenomena which painfully hindered the rate of progress. They would even regularly sabotage the overhead projection system for the classroom to kill time while I had to call in a technician to fix it!! Later on, a student confessed to me that he was terrified on day 1 by seeing me use Greek letters on the board (such as rho for density or delta to show change) and had decided to drop, in fact complaining to his corresponding program manager in the digital media program. It was then suggested to me for the 2nd class to use an online management system to improve instruction, hence I requested CourseCompass access but sadly it turned out not to be supported any longer after 2004, so we switched to MasteringPhysics for the third class. The exercises there were assigned as an optional homework component but again only a few students ended up paying for the expensive program and signing up to do the optional work. The book itself is great and explains things very well, nice pictures/diagrams/appendices, and it has summary sections at the end of each chapter which helps bring together the main points. There are plenty of starred sections including applications or extras that can be skipped to manage time during the coverage of the needed material. However many students did not have the interest to read the entire text closely (as it is always necessary in physics) and assimilate or discuss the ideas, resorting to copying material from the available web resources (or each other!) to pass the class by getting the maximum possible points on the take-home exams. So when the in-class final was given, most simply bombed and the result was very few A or B grades overall. I tend to be an uncompromising professor by nature, and did not want to artificially assign A's or B's without the student really showing that they had learned something. It is a pity also, that the solutions to all of Giancoli's exercises are widely available on the internet web-sites, so it is impossible to challenge students by problems or questions from the book itself. In one instance even the students managed to use cell phones to browse these web pages and look up problems' solution on the in-class exams. (Hard to control cell phones all the time, since they may look like calculators.) Even if I assigned something from other sources (which I did a few times), they would look for a similar problem's solution in Giancoli and copy it down. The fact is that most of the good introductory physics problems are very recognizable and can be looked up in popular physics texts. I would say that if Giancoli is published in a special abridged edition, cutting down the number of pages to one-fourth of the 1000+ in its current form, it can help students actually giving up psychological adversity and start reading the watered down but essential material.

For instance in 300 pages the students can be given the main topics on 1-D and 2-D uniform kinematics, Newton's laws of dynamics, work-energy principle, conservation of energy and momentum, rotational motion, universal gravitation, fluids results such as buoyancy, fluid pressure and Bernoulli's principle, the material on sound such as the Doppler effect and strings/tubes, waves/oscillations, callorimetry, kinetic theory, ideal gases, the laws of thermodynamics and heat engines. That ends up the first semester and for the second semester (chapters 15-33) the students will be taught electricity and magnetism, light phenomenae and optical instruments, modern physics such as relativity, atomic theory, and ending things with astrophysics. The best result is obtained if there are sample problems worked out by the instructor for each main concept/law/result and the in-class exams are closely centered around those, so the students who actually attend class and study at home can perform well. One last remark is that chapter 1 is critically important and it should not be skipped as it introduces the nature of physics, system of units and their definition/usage, measurement principles such as how to use significant digits, and dimensional analysis. The homework problems in Giancoli are categorized as level I, II, III and I centered my class on level II problems for both presentation and evaluation. The class size should be ideally set to 20 and the instructor should have a separate section for solving homework problems rather than having to factor them into his or her modest lecture time. Also it is a joke to say the only background for this course is college algebra: A post-secondary physics course is necessarily a hard class first conceptually and second computationally and it requires a big sense of maturity/responsibility on the part of the student, as well as either a good general science background from high school or a strong willingness to compensate for those deficiencies by hitting the science books right away. Physics is the most conceptually difficult subject on the planet right up there with philosophy and logic and for being successful in it one needs both a good brain which can think and also dedication and diligence working out problems and being able to accept mistakes and correct them without being discouraged. Several random facts: Giancoli only uses the SI metric system throughout, the US customery units (based on the British imperial system) is only mentioned and used in chapter 1. Giancoli has a PhD with emphasis on biological physics, so the book does contain a slight bit of tilt towards such applications in its exercises. Also, the mountain pic on the front page is actually the K-2 summit which is the second highest peak in the world but the hardest to climb due to accessibility issues. Lastly, the version of the book we officially used was the "updated" sixth edition of 2009 which adds some interesting chapter openning questions for starting the discussions. It took me a couple of weeks to realize that most of the students had the ordinary 6th edition, and were lacking these questions in their texts! The pupil who managed to earn an A in one of my classes, later became a good acquaintance in the small urban school, I think this was mostly driven by the sense of respect we developed towards each other.


Calculus for Business, Economics, Life Sciences and Social Sciences (12th Edition) (Barnett)
Calculus for Business, Economics, Life Sciences and Social Sciences (12th Edition) (Barnett)
by Raymond A. Barnett
Edition: Hardcover
294 used & new from $0.72

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lucid exposition but just a bit short on the needed material., January 1, 2012
Last summer, as the instructor for a class of a dozen international students at a private business college, we used the 12th edition of Barnett/Ziegler/Byleen over the 10-week session. The online Pearson course management system (MyMathLab) supplemented the class instruction and was adopted for the majority of the assessment proceeds. The students were able to access the textbook in an electronic format on their laptops as well as the lectures' power point slides which provided a summary of the covered topics. The text's writing style is very clear, concepts are adequately explained, the results are easy to look up, and there are plenty of well-designed examples and exercises, both traditional and technological. I was able to cover the entire nine chapters, going through functions, limits, derivatives, integrals, multivariable calculus, applications and trigonometry. The students were generally happy and found the course accessible, specially in comparison to their simultaneous finite math class (which covered topics such as game theory, Markov chains, difference equations and logic among other stuff.) The calculus book itself has a companion with three extra chapters on differential equations, infinite series, and continuous probability. Assuming the students come into the calculus course with a good background on college algebra (the sole prerequisite), the instructor should be able to head-start with chapter three and have enough time to cover the important "extras" included in the companion. It'll be nice to make these extras available by default in all future editions of the book, because they are far too important to skip for any serious learner. The publisher could also help the students by providing a soft-cover version of the book at a lower selling price.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 5, 2012 8:28 AM PST


Discrete Mathematics with Applications
Discrete Mathematics with Applications
by Susanna S. Epp
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $407.95
122 used & new from $9.08

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Taught from this book to a class of 60 and all worked well., May 22, 2009
Last year as a lecturer at a large state school I was assigned the task of teaching a discrete math course and this title by Susanna Epp was suggested to me by the department administrators. Being a universalist, I had a hard time selecting among the topics that were to be covered over the semester, with the traditional approach including the core material from the chapters on logic, sets, number theory, combinatorics, sequences, recursion, and relations. However I managed to also throw in parts of the chapters on graphs, efficiency of algorithms, and automata theory, which were all well-received by the majority of the students (some of whom had complained about why logic and set theory were covered in more depth in a course like this.) The solution manual and the companion web site provide supplementary material, and the text itself does a nice job of giving some historical backdrops and expositions on a few of the subject's applications. For example in the number theory part, we talked about the RSA cryptosystem, and in the graphs section, about an algorithm to find minimum spanning trees, used to minimize costs when scheduling trips or services between various distinations. I also happened to recommend the Schaum's outlines to our campus bookstore and a few students accordingly used the latter to summarize their learnings and enhance their problem-solving skills for taking the exams. One issue with Epp's book (as with many other academic titles) is the high price tag, but I guess anyone with financial difficulties can borrow a copy from a friend or purchase it used from amazon.com or a campus vendor. There are in fact many other books on discrete mathematics available in the market (just do a search here on amazon.com to see for yourself!) but among these I would recommend two titles in particular, one by Kenneth Rosen and the other by Ralph Grimaldi.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 31, 2015 4:03 PM PDT


Intermediate Algebra: A Text/Workbook (Available 2010 Titles Enhanced Web Assign)
Intermediate Algebra: A Text/Workbook (Available 2010 Titles Enhanced Web Assign)
by Charles P. McKeague
Edition: Paperback
Price: $316.95
76 used & new from $1.84

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A review from an instructor's perspective, May 1, 2009
This semester (Spring 2009) for the first time I used McKeague's Intermediate Algebra to teach the subject at a California community college campus. Making the transition from Bittinger/Ellenbogen, and having been used to their online management system (MathXL) I was at first a bit uncomfortable with the new textbook, but after a few weeks things started rolling as usual. In fact Cengage (which recently purchased the Thomson Learning) also offers iLrn, an online course management system for many of their books and I was able to get the students signed on there for submitting homework, exams, viewing videos, accessing tutorials and other math resource pages. Overall the text is very user-friendly and meanwhile it is designed for those students who do not intend to continue their studies into the so-called hard sciences (which typically require a more intense 5-unit course in college algebra delving deeper in some areas such as solving 3x3 systems of equations with matrix methods, sequences and series, conic sections, and a heavier emphasis on technology usage.) However every section of McKeague contains applied/word problems which are highly appreciated by the students in the humanities and social sciences, who are often not too concerned with the technical details of a math topic as much as with its real life usages. We are in fact en route to covering the entire 10 chapters of the text this semester and also assigned a 10% optional extra credit project from the many suggested group/research topics, that the students can choose to submit by the last week of the instruction. In brief, having used McKeague was a welcome change and I am glad it was suggested to me by the college department managers this semester. The only issue is the high price tag, a problem for many students. In any event I look forward to working with the newest 8th edition in a future academic year.


Hitler's Uranium Club: The Secret Recordings at Farm Hall
Hitler's Uranium Club: The Secret Recordings at Farm Hall
by Jeremy Bernstein
Edition: Paperback
Price: $18.73
80 used & new from $3.16

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Myth or Reality?, March 7, 2009
For decades after the end of the WWII there has been a debate among the physicists and science/history researchers about the reasons why Germany didn't manage to develop a nuclear weapon in the 1940's. This was despite the fact that the Nazi regime had a six-month head-start in the uranium fission research (discovered at Otto Hahn's lab in 1938) and also among their ranks, Werner Heisenberg, one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists at the time. Bernstein's book discloses both the secret recordings and his comments, on the dialogues taken place among some ten leading German nuclear scientists who were detained after the war at the Farm Hall, England, while their conversations were bugged and transcribed without their own knowledge. (The 1945 recordings were first released in 1992 and made available in the book "Operation Epsilon" published in 1993.) Based on the documents and other assorted evidence, it appears that Heisenberg, the main scientific leader of the uranium research under the Third Reich, had largely overestimated the amount of fissionable material needed to manufacture a nuclear bomb, and so he had instead steered towards a policy-program for building a working nuclear reactor, using heavy water as moderator. However, the latter substance was never enough in his possession due to destruction of the heavy water establishment in Vemork, Norway, in 1943 by a British partisan attack. In reality, despite the popular literature concentrating on him, Heisenberg was not the primary figure pursuing the German A-bomb, rather it was Paul Harteck, a physical chemist based at Hamburg who eventually moved to the USA in 1951.

It is interesting to note, while the American scientists had resorted to highly purified graphite as a moderator, Walter Bothe in Germany via an experimental error --after Heisenberg's initial suggestion-- had excluded its usefulness. The Manhattan Project had also undertaken the gaseous diffusion and electromagnetic separation methods to extract U235 from U238, something only Paul Harteck and Erich Bagge among the ten detained Germans had seriously worked on, this again according to the transcribed conversations. (Harteck had also persued the centrifuge method and this process nowadays bears his name.) Aside from the technical issues, the book suggests that a couple of these scientists had barely any significant part in the uranium project, and also several were content with the assumed fact that a nuclear weapon was infeasible for Germany to produce during the war, contemplating the moral and humanistic consequences of its usage. The highlight of the transcripts is the blackboard lecture of Heisenberg for his colleagues on the days after the Hiroshima attack, in which he nearly accurately explains how such a device must have been produced. The last few documents contain the detainees' exchanges about their future life after the war, for example even going to work for the Russians, or moving to Argentina to establish the commercial uses of the new technology and to make money in the process. In conclusion, I highly recommend reading this title to all the science researchers and history enthusiasts alike.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 10, 2015 7:53 AM PDT


An Introduction to K-Theory for C*-Algebras (London Mathematical Society Student Texts)
An Introduction to K-Theory for C*-Algebras (London Mathematical Society Student Texts)
by M. RÝrdam
Edition: Paperback
Price: $54.99
34 used & new from $27.64

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best two introductory titles along with Wegge-Olsen, November 23, 2008
K-theory is a branch of algebraic topology originally concerned with the study of vector bundles by algebraic means. The first notions of the theory were put forward by Alexander Groethendieck in his work on the Riemann-Roch theorem in algebraic geometry, and early in the 60's it was developed into a branch of algebraic topology by M. Atiyah and F. Hirzebruch. From the analysis perspective, K-theory has a very natural link with the theory of Fredholm operators on a compact manifold and hence to the famous Atiyah-Singer index theorem. In the recent decades the theory has revolutionized the study of the structure theory of certain operator algebras. The procedure involves defining a collection of functors {K_n} from the category of C*-algebras to the category of abelian groups, satisfying the Eilenberg-Steenrod axioms for a homology theory. Bott periodicity as a handy feature then implies that there are only two such functors. In this nice text, the readers will find the needed material on C*-algebras, as well as an exposition of the K_0 and K_1 functors leading to the exploration of the Bott periodicity theorem and the six term exact sequence. As a graduate student a few years ago I attempted giving a seminar talk on this topic but was overwhelmed with the task of fitting the needed discussion into a 60-minute time span, specially in a way that the majority of the attendees could follow on. The exposition is indeed heavily algebraic in nature and hence anyone attempting to read and digest it properly will have to possess a strong background in the ideas and methods of basic algebraic topology.


Elementary Statistics: Picturing the World (4th Edition)
Elementary Statistics: Picturing the World (4th Edition)
by Elizabeth Farber
Edition: Hardcover
274 used & new from $0.01

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review from an Instructor's Perspective., November 22, 2008
After having used Mario Triola's Essentials of Statistics to teach my prior two classes, this semester at a new college I had the opportunity to adapt Larson & Farber in an elementary statistics course for the first time. As has become the trend lately, we have been using Pearson's accompanying Course Compass web-based program for enhancing the class activities, for example the students submit all their homework online, access tutorials, animations, video clips, and the entire collection of the textbook pages in an electronic format. The topics in Larson & Farber proceed very much along the other comparable standard books such as Triola and Moore, starting out with descriptive statistics, then covering probability and distributions (binomial, normal, Poisson), and finally moving to inferential statistics in the form of building confidence intervals, hypothesis testing (for means, proportions, variances), and linear correlation/regression. There is also another chapter covering Chi-square goodness of fit/independence, and the basics of ANOVA using the F-distribution. Larson & Farber then finish with the 11th chapter on nonparametric methods meanwhile including extra information within exercises and marginal notes, providing a plethora of interesting reading which serve to enhance the knowledge base of the readers. I have been able to cover most of the material in the first 10 chapters within a single academic semester and the majority of the twenty-something students have been keeping along and showing interest in the subject.

The students and I have kept handy our TI 83/84 calculators for many of the exercises; in a couple of places however, MINITAB is the program of choice. For example when building prediction intervals or performing multiple regression, since the TI calculators do not come equipped with a built-in program to perform such operations. The latest 4th edition contains some maiden features in the form of newly included chapter summaries, applet activities, discussions on uses and abuses of statistical techniques, cumulative reviews at the end of selected chapters, technology answers, and revised course coverage in certain chapters (for example in chapter 2, clusters and gaps were added to the measures of central tendency, and in chapter 7, the power of a test has been defined.) The authors have noted they have aimed to strike a balance between computations, decision making, and conceptual understanding, at the same time continuing to incorporate the graphical display of data throughout the text. Also the book adheres to the MAA, AMATYC, and NCTM standards which call for a student-friendly text emphasizing the applications of statistics. Additionally, there are student resources available which for example include chapter quiz prep videos on a CD-ROM, student solutions manual, and technology manual. In summary, Larson & Farber have put together an excellent resource for learning and teaching statistics which promises to have an impact both in the classroom and the academic markets in the future to come.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 3, 2010 12:37 PM PDT


String Theory and M-Theory: A Modern Introduction
String Theory and M-Theory: A Modern Introduction
by Katrin Becker
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $103.80
67 used & new from $40.00

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite single-volume "domestic" string theory book., November 1, 2008
I approach the subject from a mathematical direction having been greatly interested in the fact that historically speaking, string theory has been evolving backwards and still searching for its appropriate geometry. While only a few of the prominant names in the area have undertaken the task of writing a comprehensive manuscript on string theory, the past couple of decades has seen the publication of texts by Polchinski, Kaku, Zwiebach, and several others, all with their own merits, scope, and style of presentation. The present title as far as I know is the first on the topic chiefly written by female physicists (who are inevitably better at explaining things!) and eventhough as Lee Carlson mentions in his review here, there is room for improvements in a few places, Becker & Schwarz is one of the best current options for teaching a first-year graduate course and for reference. As the writers have noted in the Preface, the book assumes a background in quantum field theory, general relativity, and also familiarity with the mathematical concepts and constructs in group theory, differential geometry, and topology. The discussion starts out with the basics on perturbative string theory, moving into conformal field theory, supersymmetry, dualities, and finally to the more modern developments such as D-branes and M-theory. My favorite chapters are the ones on String Geometry (chapter 9) and Flux Compactifications (chapter 10), the latter being one of the more recent developments in the area not discussed in the earlier books. In a departure from the 1980's and 1990's trends, string theory has become progressively more accessible to nonspecialists (such as engineers), therefore the 120-or-so worked-out problems and the other 200 homework exercises which are included provide a good setting for those not taking an official course, to try their hand on solving various problems for better understanding the subject. In summary, Becker & Schwarz (and its possible future editions) is destined to be one of the main treatises of string theory in the coming years.


Introducing Game Theory and its Applications (Discrete Mathematics and Its Applications)
Introducing Game Theory and its Applications (Discrete Mathematics and Its Applications)
by Elliott Mendelson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $94.06
38 used & new from $78.31

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An springboard to more advanced texts., June 1, 2008
I came across this title back in 2004 on our school library's new book shelf. Being an introductory text, the range of topics and the level of mathematics it features is not geared towards a graduate course in the subject (which is what I was looking for at the time). However the exposition is perfectly suited for a junior or senior audience in the applied math, operations research, or economics majors. The coverage of the combinatorial games is a very welcome addition, and there is also a nice chapter on nonzero sum and n-person games which discusses among other things Shapley's Theorem and Imputations. The book bibliography provides numerous references for delving deeper into the specific topics of interest to the readers. After reading Mendelson, students can move on to more advaced texts such as Osborne/Rubinstein, or Fudenberg/Tirole. All in all, this title is recommended to anyone trying to read up on and understand game theory, starting from its basic methods and principles.


Introduction to Stochastic Calculus with Applications
Introduction to Stochastic Calculus with Applications
by Fima C. Klebaner
Edition: Paperback
Price: $45.90
43 used & new from $24.94

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid text, but perhaps a bit lost in the shuffle., May 14, 2006
The second edition of this delightful title by Fima C. Klebaner (Monash University, Australia) is a well-written and worthwhile excursion into the realm of stochastic calculus. The text is suited for self-study for a newcomer to the area and there are numerous worked out examples interspersed throughout. Chapters 1 and 2 cover the basics of math and probability/random processes. The author next moves to discuss Brownian Motion and its calculus (the Ito calculus) in chapters 3 and 4. The coverage of the SDEs, diffusions, martingales, semi-martingales, and pure jump processes are included next. Subsequently a chapter on some results concerning the change of probability measure rounds up the theoretical part of the book. There are four final chapters (in the 2nd edition) on applications in finance (stocks, bonds, two fundamental theorems on asset pricing, discussion of various market models), biology (Feller and Wright-Fisher diffusions, branching and birth-death processes, stochastic Lotka-Volterra models) and engineering/physics (filtering and random oscillators) to help satisfy the curiosity of the application-minded readers.

The second edition contains a new chapter on bonds and interest rates, and incorporates more worked-out examples throughout. The discussion of the Stratanovich formulation of Ito's calculus has been moved from the final chapter in the first edition, to the last section of chapter 5 on SDEs. Also at the back of the book there are many answers provided to the selected exercises. For fully grasping the concepts presented, having a background in real analysis and measure theory is helpful but not completely necessary. This was my first book on the subject and it immensely helped me form a fair understanding of the concepts, techniques and terminology of the stochastic calculus. I could only guess that many of you would also benefit from taking up this title at some point in your studies. The only thing that I sensed missing was a glossary with a list of common financial terms for the benefit of those readers who come from a different background. For the science oriented readers, another suggested title is "Stochastic Calculus: Applications in Science and Engineering" by Mircea Grigoriu, which at the same time does a nice job of touching upon the all-important computational methods.


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