Electrodynamics is a very exciting subject to learn.Â Unfortunately, Maxwell’s equations are often taught in a rather dull manner, which usually involves solving lots of boring problems without emphasizing the pivotal role symmetry principles play in the formal structure of electromagnetism. This may lead to the rather unpleasant feeling of not truly understanding! So this course is entirely devoted in trying to understand and make sense of Maxwell’s equations through their symmetries. Finally, let me try to persuade you to take this course with the words of Freeman Dyson:

*Â¨ The ultimate importance of the Maxwell theory is far greater than its immediate achievement in explaining and unifying the phenomena of electricity and magnetism. Its ultimate importance is to be the prototype for all the great triumphs of twentieth-century physics. It is the prototype for Einsteinâ€™s theories of relativity, for quantum mechanics, for the Yang-Mills theory of generalised gauge invariance, and for the unified theory of fields and particles that is known as the Standard Model of particle physicsâ€¦We may hope that a deep understanding of Maxwellâ€™s theory will result inÂ *dispersal* of the fog of misunderstanding that still surrounds the interpretation of quantum mechanics. And we may hope that a deep understanding of Maxwellâ€™s theory will help to lead the way toward further triumphs of physics in the twenty-first century.Â¨*

**Prerequisites: **The course is aimed at advanced undergraduates and beginning graduates. Tensor calculus is desirable.Â

**Lecture Notes:Â ***Lecture Notes currently in progress!*

**SYLLABUS**

**Electrostatics and MagnetostaticsÂ **

**I**Â Electrostatics, magnetostatics, and the Helmholtz theorem.

**Electrodynamics**

**II**Maxwell’s equations and the Helmholtz theorem for retarded fields.**III**Â Gauge symmetry in Maxwell’s equations.**IV**Conservation laws: charge, energy, momentum, and angular momentum.**V**Gauge symmetry in quantum mechanics**VIÂ**Duality symmetry in electrodynamics and the Dirac quantization condition.

**Electrodynamics and relativityÂ **

**VII**Â Review of special relativity.**VIII**Covariant formulation of Electrodynamics.

**How to “discover” Maxwell’s Equations?Â **

**IX**Â A heuristic derivation of Maxwell’s equations from charge conservation.**X**Â A heuristic derivation of Maxwell’s equations from quantum mechanics.

**Action Principle in Electrodynamics**

**XI**Â The principle of least action.**XII**Â Lagrangian formulation of electrodynamics.**XIII**Â Conservation laws and Noether’sÂ theorem.

**Useful textbooks**

- J. D. Jackson, 1999, Classical Electrodynamics,Â 3rd edn (New York: Wiley)
- A. Zangwill, 2012, Modern Electrodynamics (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge)
- J. Schwinger et al., 1998, Â Classical Electrodynamics (Westview press)
- F. E. Low, 1997, Classical Field Theory: Electromagnetism and Gravitation (Wiley)

**Recommended****Â Articles for the course**

- R. Heras, 2017, Alternative routes to the retarded potentials, Eur. J. Phys
**38**, 055203 [PDF]. - R. Heras, 2016, The Helmholtz theorem and retarded fields, Eur. J. Phys.Â
**37****,**065204 [PDF]. - R. Heras, 2016, Lorentz transformations and the wave equation,Â Eur. J. Phys.Â
**37**, 025603 Â [PDF]. - F. J. Dyson, Why is Maxwell’s Theory so Hard to Understand? [PDF].
- F. J. Dyson, 1991, Feynman’s proof of the Maxwell’s equations, Am. J. Phys.
**58**, 209 [PDF]. - T. T. Wu and C. N. Yang, 1975, Concept of nonintegrable phase factors and global formulation of gauge fields, Phys. Rev. DÂ
**12**, 3845 [PDF]. - P. A. M. Dirac, 1931, Quantised Singularities in the Electromagnetic Field,Â Proc. R. Soc. Lond. A
**133**, 60 [PDF]. - J. D. Jackson,Â From Lorenz to Coulomb and other explicit gauge transformations,Â Am. Â J. Phys.
**70**, 917 (2002) [PDF]. - D. H. Kobe, 1984,Â Helmholtz theorem for antisymmetric second-rank tensor fields and electromagnetismÂ with magnetic monopoles, Â Am. J. Phys.
**52**, 354 [PDF]. - C. N. Yang, The conceptual origins of Maxwell’s equations and gauge theory, Phys. Today 67 (11),Â 45 (2014) [PDF].
- D. J. Gross, 1996, The role of symmetry in fundamental physics, PNAS,
**93**, 14256 [PDF]. - J. Schwinger, 1969,Â A magnetic model of matter, Science,
**165**, 3895 [PDF]. - E. Witten, 1997, Duality, Spacetime, and Quantum mechanics,Â Phys.Today
**50**, 28 [PDF].