Top critical review
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Too basic for degree level
on 22 June 2012
Young and Freedman was the recommended textbook for my undergraduate physics course and I dutifully bought a second-hand copy. On the few occasions in my first year that I tried reading it I did not find it of any use. It simply lacks the detail I require for any course, often only having the really key equations; I suppose I could use it for some quick reference if only the size weren't so unwieldy. Also I noticed that Y+F seems largely to shy away from complex numbers (and sometimes even differentials) which is no good if you want to get beyond term 1 of university physics.
As an example, on being confused by circular/elliptical polarisation equations I decided to look up the topic - there is a short description (did you know that circular polarisation is IN A CIRCLE?) but not an equation in sight. The internet quickly told me there are two different conventions of left/right circular polarisation and provided the equations.
In my second year I have had no recourse to this book. There is extremely little on quantum mechanics, which has been a large part of my studies.
The only uses I've found for it so far are a) propping open my window and b) when I'm writing lab reports etc. and need book references rather than websites. Because while the internet can often provide the explanations and derivations that are sorely lacking in this book, markers would still rather you refer to what is more of an A-level textbook...
In conclusion, if you're a physics student and need to look at a textbook then go to your university library and find one more specialised on the topic, Y+F is a master of none.