I was wondering if there's a dependency chart for Goldstein's book, i.e. what chapters do I need to read before reading a specific chapter I'm interested in (it need not be an official one made by Goldstein himself). The preface of the book doesn't provide one, and I cannot seem to find one online either. As an alternative, I'd also appreciate people telling me what chapters I'd need to read given my background and interests below.

My background: I am a 1st-year student double majoring in physics and math. I know multivariable calculus and ODEs, and self-studied the first chapter of Landau's Mechanics. I also self-studied the basics of group theory, linear algebra, and differential geometry (the latter from following Schuller's Lectures on the Geometric Anatomy of Theoretical Physics, currently up to lec. $11$ but I'm going through roughly $1-2$ lectures per week). I also worked out all the problems in Chapter $1$ of Shankar's QM, but I don't imagine that'd be very relevant.

My interests: From looking at the contents page, I am mostly interested in chapters: $7, 8, 9,$ and $13$ covering: SR, Hamiltonian Mechanics, Canonical Transformations, and Classical Field Theory resp. I am also interested in going through Arnold's Mathematical Methods of Classical Mechanics later, but I imagine it'd probably be better to use Goldstein first.

My (probably naïve) plan is to go through chapters $1$ and $2$, then jump to the chapters I'm interested in, in order.

Edit: I'm not sure how relevant this is, but I thought I'd add that I'm using the third edition of Goldstein's book.


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I've quickly scanned through the book, and here's what I could discern. I welcome edits from other people who are more familiar with the Goldstein, Poole, & Safko than I am.

As you correctly surmise, Chapters 1 & 2 should be learned before anything else. Beyond this, the following chapters & sections rely on previous chapters other than #1 and #2:

  • Chapter 5 (Rigid-Body Equations of Motion) relies extensively on Chapter 4 (Kinematics of Rigid-Body Motion). Section 5.8 (Precession of Equinoxes) would also benefit from familiarity with Chapter 3 (The Central Force Problem).
  • Section 7.7 (Relativistic Collisions) would benefit from familiarity with Sections 3.10–11 (Scattering Problems).
  • Section 8.4 (Hamiltonian Formulation of Relativistic Mechanics) requires Chapter 7 (Special Relativity).
  • Chapter 9 (Canonical Transformations) requires Chapter 8 (The Hamilton Equations of Motion). Section 9.7 (Angular Momentum Poisson Brackets) requires Chapter 4.
  • Chapter 10 (Hamilton-Jacobi Theory & Action-Angle Variables) requires Chapters 8 & 9. Section 10.5 & 10.8 (which apply these tools to the Kepler Problem) requires Sections 3.7–8 (the Kepler Problem).
  • Chapter 11 (Classical Chaos) draws on Chapters 3 & 10 for examples, particularly in its presentation of the KAM theorem (Sections 11.1–2).
  • Chapter 12 (Canonical Perturbation Theory) relies on Chapters 8–10. Some examples in Section 12.3 are based on Sections 3.7–8 (the Kepler Problem).
  • Chapter 13 (Continuous Systems & Fields) generally benefits from knowledge of Chapter 7 (Special Relativity), especially in Section 13.5 (Relativistic Field Theory). Section 13.4 (Hamiltonian Field Theory) requires familiarity with Chapter 8.

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