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I'm a mathematics major who has taken a few physics courses and the presentation in physics texts bothers me.

In mathematics, the standard format is a theorem-proof repetition with some discussion. Axioms and definitions are laid out and you develop the theory from them. I understand that physics is an experimental science, but the theory behind undergraduate physics is a well-developed and coherent theory. It seems one could postulate some definitions and experimental facts and derive, say, classical mechanics from them.

But physics texts, in my limited experiences, don't do this. They mix derived results with experimental facts in a sort of ad-hoc discussion, which leaves me with no clear idea of when certain theorems are applicable and when they aren't.

If this is too abstract, I can give some particular examples from books if needed.

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closed as not a real question by Qmechanic, dmckee Jan 21 '12 at 22:36

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

As it stands this seems to be a bit of a rant and a bit of a request for discussion with no answerable question in sight. I'm going to close it for now, but am open to being convinced that this is a mistake. – dmckee Jan 21 '12 at 22:36
BTW--May I ask at what level you are studying physics right now? In my experience the thick introductory textbooks used for Physics 101 type classes rarely treat their subject matter in the theorem/proof style of mathematics, but many upper division and graduate level texts do. I suspect the reason is wrapped up in how much mathematical preparation is assumed by the book: a lot of people in the introductory surveys are they for their breadth-and-depth requirement and may have barely enough math to get through the current style course. – dmckee Jan 21 '12 at 22:39
I can see how this looks like ranting, but I also think it is a legitimate concern for many people who are used to math exposition. I'm talking about upper-level undergrad/1st year grad books. I will post some specific examples when I get some time and maybe you can re-open then. – StuartHa Jan 21 '12 at 22:49
Examples of books that do take a formalistic approach: Goldstein for mechanics, Callen for thermodynamics and Landau and Lifshitz for QM and E&M. – dmckee Jan 21 '12 at 22:52
Arnold for Classical Mechanics is another book that might interest you. – jinawee Jul 8 '13 at 15:00

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