Mathematics for Philosophers (of Physics)

Rough dependencies of physical theories on mathematical theories

Rough dependencies of mathematical theories on mathematical theories

By "A depends on B", we here mean that you need to know B before you can learn A.

Books by field

The following is a list of some of the books that I have found most useful for developing a set of tools to work on philosophy of physics.


Geroch, Robert, Mathematical physics. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL (1985) ISBN: 0226288617; 0226288625. [The title is misleading. It might have been called: "The minimum abstract mathematical prerequisites needed to work in contemporary mathematical physics." It surveys several branches of abstract mathematics including Vector Spaces, Groups, Manifolds, Topological Spaces, etc..]

Schechter, Eric, Handbook of analysis and its foundations. Academic Press Inc., San Diego, CA (1997) ISBN: 0126227608 [Don't try to read from front to back. Instead, use as a reference work. This book contains materials on mathematical structures not included in Geroch, such as topological groups, vector measures, convex sets, and set theory.]

Linear Algebra

Jänich. Linear Algebra or the original German: Lineare Algebra doi:10.1007/978-3-540-75501-2

Axler. Linear algebra done right. ISBN 0387982582

Halmos. Linear algebra problem book. ISBN 0883853221

Abstract Algebra (groups, rings, modules, etc..)

Aluffi. Algebra: Chapter 0

Hungerford. Algebra ISBN 0387905189

Mac Lane and Birkhoff. Algebra

Point-Set Topology

Kelley, John L., General topology. Springer-Verlag, New York (1975) ISBN: 3540901256

Munkres, James, Topology. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J. (2000) ISBN: 0131816292

Steen, Lynn Arthur and Seebach, Jr., J. Arthur, Counterexamples in topology. Dover Publications Inc., Mineola, NY (1995) ISBN: 048668735X

Differential Geometry

Malament. Notes on the foundations of general relativity

Lee. Introduction to Smooth Manifolds

Munkres, James R., Analysis on manifolds. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company Advanced Book Program, Redwood City, CA (1991) ISBN: 0201510359

Wald. General Relativity. ISBN 0226870332

Real and Complex Analysis

Rudin, Walter, Real and complex analysis. McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York (1987) ISBN: 0070542341

Needham, Tristan, Visual complex analysis. The Clarendon Press Oxford University Press, New York (1997) ISBN: 0198534477

Measure Theory

Halmos, Paul R., Measure theory. Springer, New York, N. Y. (1974) ISBN: 0387900888

David Fremlin, Measure theory.

Functional Analysis

Kadison, Richard and Ringrose, John, Fundamentals of the theory of operator algebras. AMS, Providence, RI (1997) ISBN: 0821808192 [Chapters 1 through 3]

Jordan, Thomas, Linear operators for quantum mechanics. Dover (2006).

Operator Algebras

Start with Kadison and Ringrose (see under Functional Analysis). Aspire to Takesaki's three volume masterpiece (ISBN: 354042248X, 354042914X, 3540429131)

Category Theory

Awodey. Category Theory.

Borceux. Handbook of categorical algebra

Mac Lane. Categories for the working mathematician.

Topos Theory

Mac Lane and Moerdijk. Sheaves in geometry and logic.

Reyes. Generic figures and their glueings.

Author: Hans Halvorson
Updated: Nov 10, 2010