Physics is naturally expressed in mathematical language. Students new to the subject must simultaneously learn an idiomatic mathematical language and the content that is expressed in that language. It is as if they were asked to read Les Misérables while struggling with French grammar. This book offers an innovative way to learn the differential geometry needed as a foundation for a deep understanding of general relativity or quantum field theory as taught at the college level.
The approach taken by the authors (and used in their classes at MIT for many years) differs from the conventional one in several ways, including an emphasis on the development of the covariant derivative and an avoidance of the use of traditional index notation for tensors in favor of a semantically richer language of vector fields and differential forms. But the biggest single difference is the authors’ integration of computer programming into their explanations. By programming a computer to interpret a formula, the student soon learns whether or not a formula is correct. Students are led to improve their program, and as a result improve their understanding.
About the Authors
Gerald Jay Sussman is Panasonic Professor of Electrical Engineering at MIT. He is the coauthor (with Hal Abelson and Julie Sussman) of Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (MIT Press). Sussman and Wisdom are also coauthors of Functional Differential Geometry (MIT Press).
Jack Wisdom is Professor of Planetary Science at MIT. Sussman and Wisdom are also coauthors of Functional Differential Geometry (MIT Press).
“Another gem in the tradition of Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs and Structure and Interpretation of Classical Mechanics, providing for applied mathematics what the previous two books did for computer science and physics.”
—Piet Hut, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey