If a student with no background in physics and an understanding of only single variable calculus wanted to learn string theory, what sequence of textbooks would most succinctly, clearly, and comprehensively fill in the gaps, assuming a 100% retention rate of the textbooks' material?

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    $\begingroup$ Zwiebach's textbook starts from classical electromagnetism and goes to string phenomenology. $\endgroup$ Mar 21 '13 at 4:17
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    $\begingroup$ This question is ridiculous. $\endgroup$
    – user12345
    Mar 21 '13 at 10:27
  • $\begingroup$ @danig, if my answer is not yet what you were looking for, I can try to update it further if you give me a hint ... ;-). Cheers $\endgroup$
    – Dilaton
    Mar 21 '13 at 15:32
  • $\begingroup$ Hey @dilaton, the answer was good, I just wanted to wait to hear some other people's opinions before closing the question. $\endgroup$ Mar 21 '13 at 15:36

I think David Mc Mohan's sequence of Demystified books could be about appropriate to smoothly approach string theory on a gentle but nevertheless technical level. However, if you are very serious and plan to do research, this does not replace studying the Polchinski bible and many other "real" textbooks ...

The demystified books are best read in the following order:

Quantum Mechanics


Quantum Field Theory


String Theory

Before you read the string theory book, it is indispensable that you know some Complex Analysis too.

I like these books because the layout is funny, and they contain nice small grained step by step derivations and good explanations of the most important ideas and concepts you need to know when delfing into a new subject for the first time. The purpose of these books is among other things to make reading "real textbooks" about each topic listed easier.

In addition, to learn what should be studied in what order and find additional resources, Gerard t'Hooft gives some good advice about How to become a good theorist and Waren Siegel has devised a Graduate curiculum for people who want to study high energy theory.


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