Course of Theoretical Physics

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Course of Theoretical Physics
Landau & Lifshitz - Volume 1 - Mechanics.jpg
Cover of the first volume, Mechanics (Russian Edition)
Author Lev Landau (Vol. 1–3, 5–8)
Evgeny Lifshitz (Vol. 1–10)
Vladimir Berestetskii (Vol. 4)
Lev Pitaevskii (Vol. 4, 9–10)
Country Soviet Union
Language Russian, English
Subject Physics
Genre Textbook
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 1938-39.[1] However, almost all of the actual writing of the early volumes was done by Lifshitz, giving rise to the often repeated witticism, "not a word of Landau and not a thought of Lifshitz".[2] The first eight volumes were finished in the 1950s, written in Russian and translated into English by the late 1950s. 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" (rus. "Ландафшиц") in informal settings.[3][4]


The books are well known for their concise, elegant and accurate formulation of the laws of physics. Generations of physicists, both in Russia and around the world, have been educated in physics through this series. The presentation of material is advanced, requires a foundation of physics, and is suitable for graduate-level study.

Russian editions[edit]

English editions[edit]

Note that reprints and revised editions are not listed.

Volume 1

Covers classical mechanics without special or general relativity, in the Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formalisms.

Volume 2

Covers relativistic mechanics of particles, and classical field theory for fields, specifically special relativity and electromagnetism, general relativity and gravitation.

Volume 3

Online copy Covers quantum mechanics without special relativity.

Volume 4

The original edition was two books, labelled part 1 and part 2. The first had general aspects of relativistic quantum mechanics and relativistic quantum field theory, leading onto quantum electrodynamics, the second continued on 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 5

Covers general statistical mechanics and thermodynamics and applications, including chemical reactions, phase transitions, and condensed matter physics.

Volume 6

Covers fluid mechanics in a condensed but varied exposition, from ideal to viscous fluids, includes a chapter on relativistic fluid mechanics, and another on superfluids.

Volume 7

Covers elasticity theory of solids, including viscous solids, vibrations and waves in cystals with dislocations, and a chapter on the mechanics of liquid crystals.

Volume 8

Covers electromagnetism in materials, includes a variety of topics in condensed matter physics, a chapter on magnetohydrodynamics, and another on nonlinear optics.

Volume 9

Builds from the original statistical physics book; more applications to condensed matter theory.

Volume 10

Presents various applications of kinetic theory to condensed matter theory, on metals, insulators, and phase transitions.


  1. ^ Richard Rhodes (1995). Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb. Simon & Schuster. p. 33. 
  2. ^ Anton Z. Capri (2007). "From Quanta to Quarks: More Anecdotal History of Physics". World Scientific. p. 112. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ [2]

External links[edit]