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I am an undergrad student and i have been through a first easy course on electrodynamics and i have used the book of Griffiths which let me satisfied.But the next two courses I will be taking are notoriously hard mathematics-wise so i want a step-up from Griffiths. I want a mathematically rigorous and comprehensive book that also builds up intuition (because physics is not only maths).

I have looked at Purcell's book and found it very pedagogic, it impressed me but I do not know if it is as difficult as I want.

Do you suggest that I buy Purcell's book or do you have anything else in mind?


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marked as duplicate by Kyle Kanos, Qmechanic May 28 '15 at 19:47

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    $\begingroup$ possible duplicate of Recommended books for undergraduate electrodynamics $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos May 28 '15 at 19:07
  • $\begingroup$ dont get me wrong,i have gone through all the questions about the electromagnetics books,but i just want a clear answer as to what book i should choose for undergrad level but that is rich on maths.If you closely look at the answers in the question that you posted above,you will see that Purcell is mentioned but no one clearly says if it is mathematically rich.And i mean very rich.My question is very clear and it asks something more accurate than the question that you say that mine is a duplicate of.I hope you understand the difference $\endgroup$ – TheQuantumMan May 28 '15 at 19:13
  • $\begingroup$ I don't see a difference between the two questions. You've either got a duplicate (my opinion) or you are asking for an opinion-based answer (off-topic). $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos May 28 '15 at 19:18
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    $\begingroup$ @LandosAdam the classics on this topic (typically considered graduate level) are Jackson and Landau & Lifshitz volume 2 $\endgroup$ – Danu May 28 '15 at 19:20
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    $\begingroup$ @LandosAdam I don't care for reading monographs on electrodynamics, so I haven't read anything past Griffiths and some stuff by L & L. Yes, L & L is typically said to be graduate-level. It is a lot more concise than Jackson, and cuts right to the chase without teaching you a whole lot of calculational techniques etc. If I wanted to really read a book on ED, it would be a pure math book (Hehl & Obukhov) which does it REALLY rigorously $\endgroup$ – Danu May 28 '15 at 19:26

In my opinion, Purcell is actually a mathematical step down from Griffiths, and certainly covers fewer topics than it. It's great for intuition-building (and every serious physicist should own it), but if rigor is what you're after, it's not the best choice.

Jackson and Landau & Lifshitz are going to be the standard answers here. Another option, and one I find much easier to read (and more interesting) than either of the above texts, is Zangwill's Modern Electrodynamics. It's a relatively new text (2013) that has plenty of mathematical derivations in it, but also a lot of neat examples that show you the power of the techniques.

(That said, Zangwill's chapter on relativity uses $ict$ notation, which I can't even.)

  • $\begingroup$ if you could be more specific,could you please tell me how much a step above is Zangwill's text from Griffiths mathematically wise?Also,what about intuition?Could you rank me Purcell,Griffiths and Zangwill intuition wise? $\endgroup$ – TheQuantumMan May 28 '15 at 19:43
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    $\begingroup$ Roughly, I would say the following: For intuition-building, Purcell > Griffiths ≈ Zangwill. For mathematical rigor & intensity, Zangwill > Griffiths > Purcell. For applications of the material to the "real world" and general interesting discussion, Zangwill > Purcell > Griffiths. For volume of material covered, Zangwill >> Griffiths > Purcell. $\endgroup$ – Michael Seifert May 28 '15 at 19:52
  • $\begingroup$ So if i get Zangwill and just get some copies(legal) of some chapters from Purcell for building intuition,i would be complete for both of the advanced courses on electromagnetism,rifgt? $\endgroup$ – TheQuantumMan May 28 '15 at 19:56

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