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3.9 out of 5 stars9
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 5 April 2001
Wald's title is great and one of the best for a graduate course. It treats clearly with the mathematics, the Einstein equation and their conclusions, demonstrating every assert or theorem. However it isn't a book for beginners or for a complete reference of the subject. It centers its attention with black hole thermodynamics, singularity theorems, causality and things like spinors. The fundaments, and above all, the underlying ideas of General Relativity are treated very quickly, but it is ideal for people who know general relativity and want to increase his skills in order to become a "relativistic expert".
I think that this should be the relativity references (in order):
* Beginner: Spacetime Physics (Wheeler, Taylor), A journey into spacetime and gravitation (Wheeler), Exploring Black Holes (Wheeler, Taylor), A short course in General Relativity (Schutz; you only need multivariable calculus).
* "Middle": Spacetime Physics, A short course in General Relativity, Geometrical Methods of Mathematical Physics (Schutz), Gravitation (Misner, Thorne, Wheeler) = the telephone book.
* Advanced: A short course in General Relativity, Geometrical Methods of Mathematical Physics, Gravitation, (only part of) Geometry Topology and Physics (Nakahara), General Relativity (Wald), The Large structure of SpaceTime (Hawking).
Of course, these are only my orientative guidelines. Gravitation and Cosmology by Weinberg is a great book, but I don't like it because of his not geometric approach, all of above treat the modern point of view of Differential Geometry, clear, beauty and intuitive, despite not being the approach used by Einstein.
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on 8 August 2012
The book covers a wide range of different topics in General Relativity, from Einstein's Equation and gravitational waves, to black holes, passing trough Cosmology and differents types of universes and their evolution.
The book begins with three chapters with preliminary mathematics (Riemann geometry, manifolds and tensors) deep but too short, so one should complete this part with another book on Tensor Calculus.
The treatment of the topics is formal but too abstrac and it has no examples or worked problems, so if it's the first time you read something on General Relativity it would be too hard for you.
So, it's a good book, but you need a solid basis to a good understanding.
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on 16 October 1998
Offers the clearest introduction available (using the best notation) to the mathematical background (e.g. the connection). Concise, careful, and clear. Particularly strong on singularity theorems, causality, and black hole thermodynamics. Narrower coverage than Stephani or d'Inverno, but provides the best introduction to these topics. Includes problems. Should appeal particularly to mathematically minded readers. This book might look daunting at first glance but I think it is actually very "reader-friendly"-- I find I appreciate it more each time I return to it.
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on 8 July 1998
The excellent book by Robert Wald is really indispensable for every active theoretical physicist. I completely agree with the characterization given for this book in its presentation by Amazon.com.
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on 28 May 2016
Great book with lots of mathematical details. Also, it is not for the beginner, but for the person/student who already posses some maturity.
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on 20 March 2002
Wald is a rare textbook that does not flinch away from mathematical technicalities. It is to be recommended to those theorists with a solid grounding in pure maths.
However, it is not quite the perfect mathmos' GR book. The section on Differential Geometry seems rather clumsily presented for one who has had a course in Differential Manifolds and Cohomology.
Of course such knowledge may be useless for practical purposes in Relativity. Therefore overall, Wald is a good book for those mathematically minded and wanting a career as Relativity theorists.
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on 6 June 2001
If you are taking you first course in general relativity this book is not for you. Wald was the recommended text for my undergraduate course on general relativity. It is too complicated and too rigorous for first timers. General relativity is not an easy topic at the best of times. If you are a beginner make it easier for yourself and buy a book aimed at beginners. Having said all that, Wald is not a bad book just a difficult one. Many, many concepts within the subject area are covered very well. My lecturer thought highly of this book. So, if you already have a grounding in General Relativity, and in particular some knowledge of set theory, then this book would certainly give you a deeper understanding of the theory.
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on 18 December 1998
This is a terrific book, not only because it contains some stuff difficult to find anywhere else (other than research papers) but because it is very well written, the material very well culled. It's not a book for neophites, but an invaluable reference for practitioners.
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on 17 November 2013
About the best I can say about this book is that it is not actually wrong. Wald has been a central exponent of the modern fashion for "coordinate free" notations, which completely miss the point that a manifold is composed of coordinate systems. Some may justify this by saying that nature does not use coordinates, but if that is so, nature does not use a manifold. These are human inventions. There is a huge difference between saying, as general relativity does "true in all coordinate systems (so we don't need to specify which one we are using for physics)" and saying "true without coordinates". These two notions tend to become confused in coordinate free treatments.

Wald also succumbs to the modern fashion for thinking it is somehow clever not to understanding what formulae mean. Essential ideas like a connection and a derivative are replaced with unjustified algebraic formulations. It is as though he is doing physics by imitation of what is done in pure mathematics where we are not interested in the application. This is no way to do physics.

As for whether coordinate free notations have any practical advantages, compare this with the book by D'Inverno, which is easier to read, at least as accurate, and covers more ground.
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