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A First Course in General Relativity 2nd Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521887052
ISBN-10: 0521887054
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Schutz has done a masterful job of incorporating ... new developments into a revised edition, which is sure to become a new "classic." I look forward to teaching out of the second edition of "first course."
Clifford M Will, McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences, Washington University, St Louis

"This new edition retains all of the original's clarity and insight into the mathematical foundations of general relativity, but thoroughly updates the accounts of the application of the theory in astrophysics and cosmology, which have moved on considerably ... The result is an indispensable volume for anyone wishing to develop a deep and physically well-motivated understanding of relativistic gravitation, and this new edition will no doubt become a classic text in its own right."
Mike Hobson, Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge

"Schutz has updated his eminently readable and eminently teachable A First Course in General Relativity. The result maintains the style of the first edition -- intuitively and physically motivated presentation of the subject. ... This text will be appreciated by any upper level undergraduate with an interest in cosmology, astrophysics, or experimentation in gravitational physics."
Richard Matzner, The Center for Relativity, University of Texas at Austin

"Well laid out, developing logically and amply illustrated. Absolutely recommended."
Times Higher Education Supplement

Book Description

Clarity, readability and rigor combine in the second edition of this widely-used textbook to provide the first step into general relativity for undergraduate students with a minimal background in mathematics. Over 300 exercises give students the confidence to work with general relativity and the necessary mathematics.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 406 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2nd edition (June 22, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521887054
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521887052
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.8 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #185,941 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I struggled through this book more than I was okay with while learning GR. Originally, I thought it was that difficult of a topic. But upon learning much more about GR and having much more experience, I still find this book to be a cumbersome read. The author never decides if he wants to use modern coordinate free notation or old school component only notation. He constantly swaps back and forth and only ever half develops anything from modern notation. It left me VERY confused when first learning this topic. Upon coming back to check it out recently, I now understand why. He does an extremely poor job of developing the notations together and, much more often than not, he leaves you confused.

When the author teaches and strictly stays with old school notation, the book does a fantastic job. But when he tries to incorporate modern notation, it's confusing.

After finding the book "A Student's Guide to Vectors and Tensors," I find that this book is rather mediocre. Fleisch did a drastically better job at teaching you everything up to the Riemann tensor. It's not even comparable. If I were suggesting a path to learn GR, I would say Fleisch, Zee, Carroll, Wald.
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Format: Hardcover
In my opinion, this is a very fine book. Introductory but not too easy.
It was the book used in class attended by a wide range of students where I was teaching the tutorials. But: I found that very few students actually liked the book. Let me talk about why I think this is so.

-about one half missed proper mathematics (more advanced students at graduate level) or at least some diff geo as in Carroll (Bachelor students)
-most students found explanations being not very clear especially later, e.g. in the grav. wave chapter

Let me comment on both points. First, when you consider buying this book you probably already know this is a physics first introductory textbook and do not expect too much differential geometry. Then the first criticism does not apply.
(Also, I found that there was almost no correlation between interest in advanced math and ability to solve (physics) problems in GR / understanding of the physics with the students. My own experience when learning GR was in fact that I got side tracked by the appealing math. I now know this was a mistake. )
By the way, all math that is used in Schutz is introduced in a logical, well motivated, very careful way. At least 2 long chapters are spent on this. The approach is not quite the "old fashioned tensors = transform like this"-way and not the "abstract, modern, math" way.

E.g. in the way introduced it is _physically_ clear that the covariant derivative of the metric vanishes (ultrimately connected to the equivalence principle).
C.f. more mathematical introductions: there the covariant derivative is sometimes just defined to have this property. Decide for yourself which approach you like more.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this book for self study as was recommended by some of the fellow readers but was disappointed to find following issues.

1. Many concepts are not explained fully in the chapters but are rather built into the exercises. As solutions to exercises are not provided in the book it becomes very difficult for understanding the concepts on your own. There is an online file containing solution on Cambridge Universtity press but access to that file is provided only if you are a teacher. This makes the book practically useless for self study.

2. Many equations are given in the book without providing the proper derivation or proof of the equations.

Apart from these drawbacks the book is good and can be useful for students with someone available to explain the concepts. Definitely not for self study.
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Format: Hardcover
Schutz assumes basic knowledge of 3D vector calculus. He explains very clearly the essentials of the new mathematics the upper division physics undergraduate must acquire to learn the rudiments of GR, holding the readers hand through one-forms, and tensor calculous. I found it much better than MTW in that regard -- after reading about one-forms in MTW I recall thinking "but this one-form sounds like the gradient of a scalar field, which I learned to be just a *vector*, so what's the difference?!". Schutz anticipates this question and provides the appropriate explanation. (In 3D Cartesian coordinates there's no need to distinguish btw one-forms and vectors because they have identical components. Not so in SR or GR.) I believe this book is also appropriate for self-study (how I'm using it). The problems at the end of the chapters in Schutz are essential. Each problem seems to be well-choosen with the aim of leading the reader to greater understanding without being bogged down in pointless computation. Detailed solutions to almost all the problems up to Chapter 6, and a few comments on the text and the odd typo, can be found on my [...]
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Schutz clears away the dominant GR textbook tradition...creates an introductory GR firmly within Geometrical Methods of Mathematical Physics drawn from "MTW" (Misner, Thorne, Wheeler) Gravitation (Physics Series). (For smart, thrifty autodidacts...consider purchasing a paperback of Schutz' 1985 edition -- which supplies answers to problems! Available through Amazon.com used book sellers.)

Schutz adopts MTW's most algebraic form of GR. Which means? You can solve real GR problems without exposure to a level of geometric sophistication which can be added later by either of the two texts linked above.

You already know vectors: vector components and base vectors. So, meet their *duals: one-form components and base one-forms. Learn why -- and why it matters -- that the gradient one-form is not a vector (operator). Watch 'c' get dropped from SR equations as just one feature of clear symbolic presentation throughout. Find Einstein's "index gymnastics" easier to master. And discover the terrible tensor as a powerhouse mathematical object -- a "machine" like a Maserati is a machine.

Fear no more the two-headed monster `contravariant' vector and `covariant' vector; hear no more Lorentz transforms wrongly called `rotations'; spend no time sloughing through Maxwell's equations just because it's tradition; be exposed to no more attempts to make real "time" into an imaginary dimension by claiming that 't' is really '-it'. (See MTW p.51 Box 2.1 "Farewell to 'ict'" which briefly, eloquently demonstrates what's right about a geometric approach to GR.
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