an introduction to statistical mechanics and thermodynamics pdf
when I first encountered them—my students tend to regard them as straightforward and rather easy. There are also several other changes in emphasis, such as a clarification of the postulates of thermodynamics and the inclusion of non-extensive systems; that is, finite systems that have surfaces or are enclosed in containers.
Part III returns to classical statistical mechanics and develops the general theory
directly, instead of using the common roundabout approach of taking the classical
limit of quantum statistical mechanics. A chapter is devoted to a discussion of the
apparent paradoxes between microscopic reversibility and macroscopic irreversibility.
Part IV presents quantum statistical mechanics.
The development begins by considering a probability distribution over all quantum states, instead of the common ad hoc restriction to eigenstates. In addition to the basic concepts, it covers blackbody radiation, the harmonic crystal, and both Bose and Fermi gases. Because of their practical and theoretical importance, there is a separate chapter on insulators and semiconductors. The final chapter introduces the Ising model of magnetic phase transitions.
The book contains about a hundred multi-part problems that should be considered
as part of the text. In keeping with the level of the text, the problems are fairly
challenging, and an effort has been made to avoid ‘plug and chug’ assignments.
The challenges in the problems are mainly due to the probing of essential concepts,
rather than mathematical complexities. A complete set of solutions to the problems
is available from the publisher.
Several of the problems, especially in the chapters on probability, rely on computer simulations to lead students to a deeper understanding. In the past I have suggested that my students use the C++ programming language, but for the last two years I have switched to VPython for its simplicity and the ease with which it generates graphs. An introduction to the basic features of VPython is given in in Appendix A. Most of my students have used VPython, but a significant fraction have chosen to use
a different language—usually Java, C, or C++. I have not encountered any difficulties with allowing students to use the programming language of their choice.