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I am curious, how important is a general understanding of electromagnetics to microwave circuit design?

I have looked at Pozars book which provides some background on EM and transmission lines in the first chapter and then goes on its way.

Would someone with little background in EM but a sufficient background in mathematics be foolish/stupid to start his book instead of doing an entire EM course beforehand? To what extent is a fullbackground in EM needed to understand a book like Pozars?

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If you want to do microwave circuit design (amplifiers, for instance), you should be comfortable with E&M theory. While a lot of the new tools out there (ADS, field solvers, etc) take a lot of the grunt work out of microwave circuit design, a good grounding (pardon the pun) in E&M theory helps understanding the results the tools give you.

If you end up dealing with interconnects, antenna elements such as notch or patch radiators, and antenna arrays, then it's all about E&M.

Unfortunately, I'm not familiar with Pozar's book so can't venture an opinion there.

To be honest, I just got by in my undergrad E&M course. Now I wish I had paid more attention. E&M theory is all based on basic principals of physics and never goes out of style or is overtaken by some new technology. The tools may change, but the underlying principles remain the same.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Pozar appears to derive what ever EM results he needs within the book itself, ex using maxwells equations he derives the wave equation, wave guide results etc. He doesn't derive radiation patterns(ex dipole antenna) but idk, glossing over it, it looks pretty self contained(google it if you want to see) \$\endgroup\$ – FourierFlux Dec 13 '19 at 23:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ He'll be giving you the absolute minimum you need to understand his book. If you want to understand what you're doing in depth -- learn E&M. If you just want an excuse not to learn E&M, it sounds like you had that before you even asked your question. \$\endgroup\$ – TimWescott Dec 13 '19 at 23:37
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I'm not familiar with that book, so I can only answer in general.

You can probably get part of the way by learning some rules of transmission line behavior (which is, I suspect, what's covered in that first chapter). But you'll never understand the "why" of those rules without knowing E&M, and as the field evolves you'll always be a bit behind, and the "slow guy in the room" when wacky new technologies are being discussed.

Then, too, you really can't begin to understand antennas without understanding electromagnetic wave propagation.

I'd learn E&M, if I were serious about the subject.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Does anyone actually solve antenna radiation by hand though? I mean it seems like understanding EM would be good for antenna design but from looking around it appears that it's completely intractable and everyone uses EM software designed by specialists. I guess the question at its core is: what does a better understanding of EM actually give you? Because it appears every nontrivial problem requires CAD to solve regardless. \$\endgroup\$ – FourierFlux Dec 14 '19 at 4:46
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Having used Pozar's book as reference previously, I feel it is a very good book for understanding Microwave Engineering, but not so good for understanding the basics of EM (Maxwell's equations/Boundary conditions etc) which is crucial for good understanding of Microwave Engineering.

Since you already have sufficient math background, I would suggest "Principles of electromagnetics" by Matthew N.O Sadiku to understand the fundamentals of EM. It goes in depth of Maxwell's equations/Boundary conditions/wave propagation etc and does so in a thorough mathematical way. This book is also used as text book for undergraduate EM course in several universities.

Doing Pozar after Sadiku is the way to go according to me.

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