JEE Books Review: Basic Laws of Electromagnetism by I. E. Irodov

As I have mentioned in an earlier post, it is not a widely known fact that Prof. Irodov also published two books – one on Mechanics and one of Electromagnetism.

I have earlier reviewed the book on mechanics. Let us look at his book on Electromagnetism in this review

Analysis

  • From the standpoint of a 1st year engineering student trying to understand electromagnetic phenomena, this book is excellent. In IIT-D we used to have a book by David Griffiths on the same subject. I think Irodov’s book is much better than that. It is one of the best books on Electromagnetic theory that I have come across. The style is terse but simple. He introduces any and all vector calculus he talks about in the book and does not assume much familiarity with the subject. The Eleven chapters in this book are a delight to read.
  • From the standpoint of a JEE aspirant, this book is a bit advanced. For example, it talks of the “differential form” of Gauss’s Law, it develops and uses Laplace’s and Poisson’s equations etc. These things are much, much beyond the scope of the JEE.
  • An above average high school student may still be able to follow this book somehow, but we feel that most students will find this book to be very intimidating and also very irrelevant for JEE preparation. Maybe 50% of this book is relevant for JEE, the rest of it covers Electromagnetism using the advanced tool of vector calculus

NOTE: Please do not think that you have covered vectors and calculus, so you must know “vector calculus”. Vector calculus refers to the rules of calculus applied to vector valued functions. It is something very different from any Mathematics you have studied in class XI and XII.

As a book for JEE preparation, the following are the pros and cons of the book

Pros:

There is only one thing in favor of this book as a JEE preparation book – topics like electrostatics, direct currents, magnetic fields in vacuum, electro-magnetic induction etc. may still be covered from this book. The conceptual clarity this book gives on these topics is tremendous.

Cons:

  1. Similar to the book on Mechanics by Prof. Irodov, the language of the book is very “terse”. It assumes a lot of intelligence, It also assumes a lot of familiarity with Mathematics from the reader.
  2. It applies calculus to vectors and requires a geometrical understanding of the meaning of differential vector quantities like dr, dv
  3. The book also uses multivariable calculus in places – as any half decent book on electromagnetic theory at university level should.
  4. The book has much more chapters than are required for JEE. Only about 40 to 50% of the material in the book is relevant for the JEE. For example the book has a chapter on the relative nature of electric and magnetic fields – where it introduces special relativity in electrodynamics.
  5. Print quality is poor (1980’s type font) – same as the book on mechanics. Diagrams, though more than in the mechanics book, are still sparse.
  6. At the end of the day, this is a college level book and not a high school book

Recommendation

As an engineer who struggled with Electrodynamics in first year at IIT D, I truly love this book.
I wish I had known about this book back then – it would have really helped me.
But when I think of this book from the standpoint of the JEE, it is definitely not meant for this exam.
The book is too Mathematically advanced for the course covered in JEE & should be avoided.


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Rohit Mehra

IIT D , IIM A grad with a passion for education, especially STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Math). Love the JEE and the way it has evolved through time ... keen to help students crack it.

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