Cover of the first volume, Mechanics (Russian Edition)
|Author||Lev Landau (Vol. 1-3, 5-8)|
Evgeny Lifshitz (Vol. 1-10)
Lev Pitaevskii (Vol. 4, 9-10)
|Publisher||Russian: Fizmatgiz, Fizmatlit, Nauka|
English: Addison-Wesley, Butterworth-Heinemann, Pergamon Press
The Course of Theoretical Physics is a ten-volume series of books covering theoretical physics that was initiated by Lev Landau and written in collaboration with his student Evgeny Lifshitz starting in the late 1930s.
It is said that Landau composed much of the series in his head while in an NKVD prison in 1938-1939. However, almost all of the actual writing of the early volumes was done by Lifshitz, giving rise to the witticism, "not a word of Landau and not a thought of Lifshitz". The first eight volumes were finished in the 1950s, written in Russian and translated into English in the late 1950s by John Stewart Bell, together with John Bradbury Sykes, M. J. Kearsley, and W. H. Reid. The last two volumes were written in the early 1980s. Vladimir Berestetskii and Lev Pitaevskii also contributed to the series. The series is often referred to as "Landau and Lifshitz", "Landafshitz" (Russian: ""), or "Lanlifshitz" (Russian: "") in informal settings.
The presentation of material is advanced and typically considered suitable for graduate-level study. Despite this specialized character, it is estimated that a million volumes of the Course were sold by 2005.
The series has been called "renowned" in Science and "celebrated" in American Scientist. A note in Mathematical Reviews states, "The usefulness and the success of this course have been proved by the great number of successive editions in Russian, English, French, German and other languages." At a centenary celebration of Landau's career, it was observed that the Course had shown "unprecedented longevity."
The following list does not include reprints and revised editions.
Volume 3 covers quantum mechanics without special relativity.
The original edition comprised two books, labelled part 1 and part 2. The first covered general aspects of relativistic quantum mechanics and relativistic quantum field theory, leading onto quantum electrodynamics. The second continued with quantum electrodynamics and what was then known about the strong and weak interactions. These books were published in the early 1970s, at a time when the strong and weak forces were still not well understood. In the second edition, the corresponding sections were scrapped and replaced with more topics in the well-established quantum electrodynamics, and the two parts were unified into one, thus providing a one-volume exposition on relativistic quantum field theory with the electromagnetic interaction as the prototype of a quantum field theory.
Volume 9 builds on the original statistical physics book, with more applications to condensed matter theory.
Volume 10 presents various applications of kinetic theory to condensed matter theory, and to metals, insulators, and phase transitions.