Customer Reviews: Vibrations and Waves (M.I.T. Introductory Physics)
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This volume is the clearest discussion I've seen of the behavior of waves and vibration. The text is accompanied by first-year mathematical physics, and very well done diagrams and graphs. An over-all admirable achievement. I took this course from Prof. French in 1965, when it was first taught at M.I.T., and the perceptual clarity of his lectures are preserved in the text. The development of the book moves logically from simple vibration to progressive waves and wave interaction with boundaries. After this book, you're ready for the great book on Optics, by Hecht, or, perhaps Ando's Architectural Acoustics. Two other volumes by French are also available: (i) Newtonian Mechanics, which is a beautiful blend of classical physics, concept discussion, and history of science, and (ii) Special Relativity, which I recommend to friends who have been confused by Einstein's theory, and invariably they tell me this book is the best they've read, and their relativistic headache's just simply gone!
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on August 4, 2000
Oscillatory function is at the root of all natural phenomena. Comprehending this behavior as a mathematically pure process is a basis through which countless aspects of the sciences and the arts can be explained, described, and even creatively elaborated upon. The effects of the physical manifestation of waves, and the inevitable complexities resulting from their interaction with the environment, are essential considerations as well.
The pages of this work are information-dense, providing physical, geometric, and mathematical descriptions of vibrations. Introducing the sine-wave, vectors and complex-exponentials as the fundamentals of periodic motion, the topics then progress to combining vibrations, masses and springs, harmonic and torsional oscillation, forced vibrations, coupled oscillators, Fourier analysis, orthogonal functions, energy transporting, decay of free vibrations, nuclear and optical resonance, diffraction and inference patterns to briefly name but a few. Physical considerations and methods are discussed in detail as well, and exercises at the end of each chapter indicate what the reader is expected to have extracted from each section [selected answers are provided].
The text within each section is written in an extremely clear, systematic and enthusiastic manner and speaks to an intelligent, inquisitive beginner of the subject matter. The numerous excellent black-and-white illustrations diagrams and photographs supplement the written descriptions admirably. The typefaces and even the feel of the paper of the book are high quality and elegant.
This is an introductory work regarding oscillatory analysis, however some mathematical knowledge is assumed by implication. Within the first 15 pages alone are equations which include derivatives, vectors, polar coordinates, complex numbers, and infinite series. It is probably best treated as a supplementary work to an on-going effort in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering. Essentially a good foundation in calculus should be sufficient. Given such background so as to understand the crucial mathematics, this work provides an incredible array and range of topics. The preface indicates that this series, by MIT Press, was established to assist in the educational process specifically, and it was tested and evaluated with this objective. As such this book is inherently a supplementary work, and prepares the reader for further research in and comprehension of an incredible range of subjects. Quantum physics, music, human movement, engineering disciplines, the natural sciences, astronomy and more have oscillation as a common thread and basis of understanding. The mechanics of the vibrational processes underlying all of these are elaborated upon to an amazing level of detail and precision within this work.
This book gets my highest recommendation for the focused subject matter it so eloquently and successfully discusses.
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on May 10, 2010
{excuse me if my review does not flow. I'm not very good at connecting paragraphs. I hope what i'm about to say here will be helpful to at least some of you.}

I realize by giving this "classic" a 3 star I'm literally asking to be bashed on. But i think it's only fair to rate a book the way one perceives it.

Before I bought the book, I read the reviews here, there were 10 five star reviews and 1 one star review. The latter one (1 star review) was voted not helpful by several users, and I thought it was just some guy trolling. But now that I've bought the book, and actually read it, I see where the guy was coming from. I think he was way too harsh to give it a 1 star rating though.

Like the title of this review says, there is no examples in this book, nope none. I dunno how other folks learn Physics but I do by looking at few examples, getting an idea of what's going on, and then trying out some problems on my own.

Fortunately, this book does have problems at the end of each chapters...and yes there is an answer key at the end of the book.

Also fortunately, there is the internet. Out of frustration, i started googing for university courses that were using this book and i hoped the professor was nice enough to post some examples, practice problem w/ solutions. Luckily there are a few out there.

There is MIT OpenCourseWare. You can see solution's to some of the problems that were assigned as a homework in MIT's Vibration and Waves class. Furthermore, they also have documented exams with solutions. University of Michigan also used this book in Physics 340 and they have exams and homework w/ solutions documented online.

My professor was selectively teaching from this book, at one point he was in chapter 7 at another he was in chapter 4 and back and forth. So it was a bit of a hassle to look over these webpages and study only those things that I needed.

Apart from the fact that this book has no examples, it is everything the 5 star reviewers have said.

P.S get yourself Vibrations and Waves (M.I.T. Introductory Physics Series)it is 1/2 the price of Vibrations and Waves (Mit Introductory Physics Series)

P.P.S. Vibrations and Waves (Manchester Physics Series)is a 2009 book published by Wiley. It actually has worked out examples. Also, at the end of the book, it provides worked out solutions (not answer key but solutions) to end of chapter problems. And it covers more or less same topics as this book, preview the table of content for both book and compare for yourself.
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on May 15, 2005
I used this textbook in a freshman physics course, and it was an invaluable introduction to the concepts of vibrations and waves. The book is mathematically rigorous, without being overbearing. The concepts are developed clearly, the exercises range from simple calculations to somewhat difficult conceptual problems, and the book covers a lot of ground.

I'd say that this book is invaluable for providing the background necessary for quantuam mechanics, and further study in physics.
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on December 2, 2006
I used this book instead of the originally assigned text (H.J. Pain's truly awful "Physics of Vibrations and Waves") in a class I took recently. It was a pleasure to read.

In spite of the fact that the book is quite short (and quite compact in your bag), it covers the material very thoroughly. The author writes clearly and with a lot of attention to the needs of the student. French's style is also very lively and makes you want to read on instead of feeling you are obligated to. The problems at the end of each chapter are excellent. It is also inexpensive.

All in all, quite a gem in this day of boring, incomprehensible, too-heavy-to-carry $120 textbooks that arrive in a "new" less readable edition every year. If only every textbook could be like this.

It isn't quite perfect -- every once in a while a derivation gets obscure and a few topics aren't covered -- but it is very, very good. I highly recommend it.
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on April 29, 2006
Vibrations and waves are very rudimentary concepts in classical mechanics and also optics. You see various treatises of this subject in many books, but this book covers it from all aspects very well.

It is very well designed pedagogically, contains very illustrative examples, instructive problems (with answers at the end of the book), descriptive diagrams, charts and figures, easy-to-follow derivations, plain and smooth language and very well-thought-out discussions. You can learn the entire subject by yourself with this book in a very short period of time.

In order to follow the mathematical derivations in the book, one needs to know calculus, introductory level classical mechanics and optics. You can save a lot of money and time by simply studying this book. Overall, it is a "must have" and "must study" book for those who study physics.
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on August 11, 2011
I ordered this book after looking through a coworker's copy. In the book I received from Amazon, the images appeared to be poor-quality photocopies of those appearing in my coworker's book. I think that in most cases the print quality will be okay enough to make out the diagram, but probably not in all of them. Pretty disappointing.
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on June 27, 2014
I decided to get this book in order to work on mit's 8.03 course. The book itself is okay, nothing mind blowing, but it gets the job done. Unfortunately, the figures in this book are impossible to read due to a horrible printing job. Its like someone haphazardly printed this book out with a 20$ laser printer. In fact, I think i could have done a better job myself... Buy at your own caution
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on January 6, 2009
I bought this book to try to get a better understanding of descriptive wave equations, resonance, and some really simple modeling of oscillating physical systems. It's done its job well! Fairly easy to read, loads of challenging chapter-end questions. The style of the writing (done in the 60's) is pretty awkward.. laid-back mannerisms sidled up against some haughty, pretentious verbiage; this can be distracting or entertaining, depending on your mood. I found it entertaining :)
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on November 26, 2013
Would give it five stars for the actual content inside it, this book is a excellent, a classic on basic physics of waves and oscillations. But the copy I received looks like a poor scan from the original 1970's issue (which my local university library has a copy, and I believe it IS a scan). The text is skewed, some pages are washed out or have black stains, and some pictures illustrating the phenomena are impossible to understand. If I knew this I would have scanned the old original book myself.
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