Before I start studying chemistry, I want to gain some knowledge about the fundamentals of mathematics and physics that are important to better understand the principles of physical chemistry, especially since I haven't taken any maths or physics courses yet. Which fields of maths and physics should I take a look at? Suggestions for literature are welcome.

  • $\begingroup$ Quora has a really good answer to your question. quora.com/What-are-the-best-physical-chemistry-textbooks. I would check this out if you have not already. $\endgroup$ – Eli Jones May 13 '20 at 21:45
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    $\begingroup$ We have a list of many textbooks from beginner to advanced, see Resources for learning Chemistry. If you get stuck or have additional questions while studying these texts, you are very welcome to ask for clarification here. $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン May 14 '20 at 10:33
  • $\begingroup$ I would like to advise not dive into math textbooks from cover to cover, esp. when time is limited. Rather get some essentials: - the Rule of Three frequently is a life saver. - linear algebra and basic matrix stuff is important - differential and integral calculus as well $\endgroup$ – imalipusram May 16 '20 at 14:06
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    $\begingroup$ Unfortunately the question remains quite broad and also opinion-based, and the rest is probably covered by the resources post. I'm not so sure this question will be reopened, and there is nothing from a moderator's point of view to be done. If you want to have a more detailed explanation, please ask it on Chemistry Meta. $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン May 16 '20 at 14:57

There are three levels of scholarship. An analogy is that someone has looked at the ocean from far away and he feels that he has seen it all (standard undergrad mindset). Next stage, is when you walk on the beach and your feet become wet and dirty with sand. You have a feeling how ocean water and the beach feels like (fresh MS/PhD). The higher level of scholarship is when you are deep diving into the ocean and realize there is too much to learn and the knowledge you have is quite limited (a mature scientist who has spent his life in research).

Since you are saying that you have not taken mathematics and physics courses, it may not be the right time to begin a proper physical chemistry course.

Couple of nice books:

Mathematics in Chemistry An Introduction to Modern Methods by Hecht

Mathematics for Physical Chemistry by Robert G. Mortimer

Get hold of them from a library and get a feel for it (the first level of scholarship). You don't need to master all to open an undergraduate physical chemistry book. You rather learn it along the way. See if you like the subject in general.


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