Assuming familiarity with the laws of physics and college-level mathematics, the book focuses on oscillations and waves whose governing differential equations are linear. The author covers aspects of optics that crucially depend on the wave-like nature of light, such as wave optics. He also introduces the conventional complex representation of oscillations and waves later in the text during the discussion of quantum mechanical waves. This helps students thoroughly understand how to represent oscillations and waves in terms of regular trigonometric functions before using the more convenient, but much more abstract, complex representation.
Based on the author’s longstanding course at the University of Texas at Austin, this classroom-tested text helps students acquire a sound physical understanding of wave phenomena. It eases students’ difficult transition between lower-division courses that mostly encompass algebraic equations and upper-division courses that rely on differential equations.
Oscillations and waves are ubiquitous in many physical situations. Universities now realise that instead of discussing these phenomena in different branches of physics, it is much more productive to have a core physics undergraduate course which encapsulates the reach physical phenomena such as advection, dispersion, diffraction, as well as non-linearity (solitons, shocks and chaos) in a single, generic course that encompasses the relevant elements of fluid dynamics, mechanics, optics, plasmas and quantum mechanics. There are surprisingly few good and more importantly recent, up-to-date textbooks available on the subject of Oscillations and Waves. Richard Fitzpatrick's Oscillations and Waves: An Introduction is an excellent addition to the existing literature on the subject. The book provides a clear, systematic, comprehensive and yet concise treatment of the subject. The emphasis is placed on physical interpretation rather than mathematical rigour, although the author certainly presents the material at the right mathematical level, commensurate with an advanced undergraduate course. The book will be equally useful for physics and engineering students, as well as mathematics students who want to get physical insight beyond the mathematical equations. The book benefits from very useful exercises which are accompanied by a solutions manual. As a physics educator, I would recommend this book without a reservation to both lecturers as excellent teaching material and to students as a learning resource which will guide them through the exciting world of waves, oscillations and patterns that are all around us.
—David Tsiklauri, Senior Lecturer in Astronomy, School of Physics and Astronomy, Queen Mary University of London, UK
About the Author
Richard Fitzpatrick is a professor of physics at the University of Texas at Austin, where he has been a faculty member since 1994. He is a member of the Royal Astronomical Society, a fellow of the American Physical Society, and the author of Maxwell’s Equations and the Principles of Electromagnetism and An Introduction to Celestial Mechanics. He earned a Master’s degree in physics from the University of Cambridge and a DPhil in astronomy from the University of Sussex.
ISBN 9781466566088, January 2013, 295 pp