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Jack Wisdom

Jack Wisdom is Professor of Planetary Science at MIT.

Titles by This Author

We now know that there is much more to classical mechanics than previously suspected. Derivations of the equations of motion, the focus of traditional presentations of mechanics, are just the beginning. This innovative textbook, now in its second edition, concentrates on developing general methods for studying the behavior of classical systems, whether or not they have a symbolic solution. It focuses on the phenomenon of motion and makes extensive use of computer simulation in its explorations of the topic.

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.

This textbook takes an innovative approach to the teaching of classical mechanics, emphasizing the development of general but practical intellectual tools to support the analysis of nonlinear Hamiltonian systems. The development is organized around a progressively more sophisticated analysis of particular natural systems and weaves examples throughout the presentation. Explorations of phenomena such as transitions to chaos, nonlinear resonances, and resonance overlap to help the student to develop appropriate analytic tools for understanding.