Can a student with a heavy math background start learning physics with Goldstein's "Classical Mechanics"?

Or is the book too obtuse with basic physics that I need to start elsewhere?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Define "heavy math background" - if you have experience with things like variational calculus, the book may well prove to be too low-level. Also, is it classical mechanics you are really interested in, or are you just using the topic as a gateway [drug? ;)] to other branches of physics? $\endgroup$
    – user10851
    Feb 27, 2013 at 8:53
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It's probably best to give it a try, then come back and ask for a recommendation for something 'less obtuse' or perhaps 'more mathematical' etc. depending on what you think. Then you'll get much better recommendations. $\endgroup$
    – jeffdk
    Feb 27, 2013 at 10:55
  • $\begingroup$ Hi user21427, Such soft-questions are best asked in chat instead (when you have enough rep). The answers to this soft-question will essentially be duplicates of the answers of this, this, and this Phys.SE posts. I close it as a duplicate, but one could also argue that the question fit some of the other 4 general reasons to close a question. Anyway, the bottom-line is that the question should be closed. $\endgroup$
    – Qmechanic
    Feb 27, 2013 at 12:31

2 Answers 2


Not only can but you should. Goldstein is a great book. Good mixture between math and ideas.


You can, certainly, it is a good book. But there are many other good books that you might also appreciate, with more advanced math. E.g. the "classics"

V. I. Arnold, Mathematical Methods of Classical Mechanics, Graduate Texts in Mathematics, Vol. 60, Springer, 1989

R. Abraham and J.E. Marsden, Foundations of Mechanics, AMS Chelsea Publishing, 2008.

J.E. Marsden, T.S. Ratiu, Introduction to Mechanics and Symmetry: A Basic Exposition of Classical Mechanical Systems, Springer, 1999.

Michael Spivak's new book on mechanics (Spivak, Physics for Mathematicians. Mechanics I, 2010) seems to be great, too. See http://mathpop.com/mechanics1.htm.


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