I'm taking a course on waves and oscillations using Crawford from the Berkeley series (out of print excluding international copies), and would like to know if anyone has any suggestions for a better book.
We cover:

  • coupled oscillators,
  • forced oscillators,
  • Fourier analysis,
  • traveling waves,

and some other topics. Any help with the topic would be appreciated.


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I think Crawford's "Waves" is an incredible book - full of insight and clearly written by someone who loves the material. I used it for my waves-course sophomore year, and I think it's too bad it's out of print now.

If you want something more theoretical, though, try Howard Georgi's book.

Also, I'll second A.P.French's "Vibrations and Waves".

Also, David Morin has a set of drafted chapters of a waves book on his website.

  • $\begingroup$ Crawford is not out of print; in fact for Indian sub-continent, it is sold at a cheaper price. Amazon has this in its bag. $\endgroup$ – user36790 Aug 23 '15 at 3:35
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I love "The physics of Waves" by Howard Georgi. The book have many unique subjects, it's a MUST READ. He shows how you can use the symmetries of a system in order to find some of its properties, eg. for coupled oscillators you can find the equations of motion from a mirror symmetry. He also proves the Heisenberg uncertainty principle and work out recent physics topics like: Holograms, Fourier Optics and many more $\endgroup$ – Keith Sep 26 '15 at 21:30
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    $\begingroup$ Morin's drafted chapters are full of intuition. They are great! $\endgroup$ – TheQuantumMan Oct 9 '15 at 7:31
  • $\begingroup$ @TheQuantumMan how do you compare Morin's book with Crawford's? $\endgroup$ – Ooker Jul 3 '17 at 11:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Ooker Crawford treats more advanced stuff and he certainly covers more ground than Morin. Both are big on intuition but I think Morin is better in that aspect. You can't go wrong with either one. $\endgroup$ – TheQuantumMan Jul 3 '17 at 12:02

I highly recommend Waves and Oscillations. A Prelude to Quantum Mechanics.

It takes a Physics perspective, which may or may not be what you want. I like that it focuses more on physical insight rather than mathematical rigor. The later chapters are a great introduction to Quantum Mechanics.


For a first book, I very much enjoyed Introduction to Wave Phenomena, By Hirose. This book uses very simple English to introduce waves at a level appropriate for a 2nd or 3rd year undergraduate. As a non-traditional physics graduate student, this book took me a week or so to master, and was very enjoyable.

For a second book, The Physics of Vibrations and Waves by Pain does a nice job of covering everything in an introductory matter with a strong rigor. After covering Hirose, this book took a few weeks to cover on my own.

The most advanced text on this topic, in my opinion, is Oscillations and Waves in Linear and Nonlinear Systems by Rabinovich. I think that if a person can understand half of what is written in this book, they will very well prepared indeed. Beware: In the Soviet Union, sometimes the book reads you.

A. Hirose and K.E. Lonngren, “Introduction to Wave Phenomena,” (Wiley Interscience, New York, 1985). Corrected edition (1995).

Pain, H. J., & Roelofs, L. (1976). The Physics of Vibrations and Waves, 5th ed.. The physics of vibrations and waves /. Wiley. (Newer Editions are available)

M. I. Rabinovich and D. I. Trubetskov, Oscillations and Waves in Linear and Nonlinear Systems. Boston, MA: Kluwer, 1989.


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