I understand that the policy here is that book requests are allowed, as long there is an effort to narrow it down. This question is similar to Can someone recommend me a book ( preferably written long ago) that includes all the details of high school chemistry?.

I am trying to find a book which tries to approach chemistry from the perspective of someone who has a higher-than-high-school-math background, i.e., they're proficient in calculus, but they aren't familiar with chemistry. Does any such book exist?

Reason why I'm asking for this is that mathematics undergraduate students, in my experience, get very little experience applying their problems outside of mathematical theory. Chemistry, in my years of tutoring and teaching, gets virtually no mention in calculus courses unless a math professor decides to discuss balancing equations using techniques in linear algebra. It has been years since I've seen high-school AP chemistry, but I recall rate laws being a consequence of integration, although this was never actually shown in AP chemistry. I made an effort, when I was a Calc. I TA, to show a class of mostly chemistry majors how the first-order rate law is derived from a differential equation.

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    $\begingroup$ Introductory first-year chemistry doesn't involve very much math. $\endgroup$
    – Yunfei Ma
    Commented May 1, 2016 at 15:28
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    $\begingroup$ General Chemistry by Linus Pauling or Chemical Principles by Peter Atkins. You may also want to skip general chemistry and go straight to P-Chem, e.g. Quanta, Matter, and Change by Atkins. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Jensen
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 6:18
  • $\begingroup$ I would like to recommend Chemical Principles by Atkins as well. Its discussion of thermodynamics and kinetics involved some calculus iirc. $\endgroup$
    – John Smith
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 8:15

1 Answer 1


Most introductory physical chemistry courses and books don't rely very heavily on prior chemistry knowledge, and there is quite some math to do there. I think you can start most subjects there independently from scratch (QM, thermodynamics, kinetics).

To better prepare us for quantum mechanics, my (chemistry) faculty offered a two-semester lecture for "freshmen" where the professor derived the Schroedinger equation with us from first principles. The lecture was basically self-contained, both mathematically (introducing analysis) and chemically (first-years do basic chemistry and qualitative inorganic analytics, there is hardly any overlap with QM).

With students that are better in math than we were, this could work very well, and faster. :-)

I'm afraid I have no english book for this. The regular physical chemistry books don't dive into the actual mathematical derivation so much. We used "Wedler, Lehrbuch der physikalische Chemie".

Btw.: Students that are good in math AND chemistry are very valuable. Be prepared for your colleagues from the chemistry department to be after them. ;-)

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    $\begingroup$ Wedler <3! I always wondered why nobody has ever attempted to translate it. But then again, it is a typeset nightmare. $\endgroup$ Commented May 7, 2016 at 16:30
  • $\begingroup$ Yea, it's a typeset lecture, and those are rarely useful without a good lecturer. An ambitious translator might give it quite a boost! $\endgroup$
    – Karl
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 16:56

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