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Statistical Mechanics

Spring 2001

Prof. Harold Baranger
Class Time:  MWF 10:30-11:20
Class Room:  room 158  Physics Building The goals of this course are, first, to explain the foundations of statistical mechanics - the physics of large number of particles - and, second, to work through most of the classic examples of statistical mechanics, as well as some current ones, so that the student develops familiarity and facility with the topic.

The course is basically divided into 3 parts:

  1. Foundations and Fundmentals of Statistical Mechanics (preceded by a review of prerequisite material) [topics 1-16 in the syllabus]
  2. Classic Examples no educated physicist can do without [topics 17-29]
  3. Other fun examples and Advanced Topics [topics 30-37] 
A more detailed syllabus can be found by following the link above.

There are two required texts for the course:

  1. R. K. Pathria, Statistical Mechanics, 2nd edition. This is the main text for the course: you will be asked to read a large fraction of the book and do many problems from it.
  2. A. B. Pippard, Classical Thermodynamics. This book will be used for the section on thermodynamics at the beginning of the course. It is a lovely and elegant treatment.
Unfortunately, the book by Pippard is out of print. However, there are 2 copies on reserve at the library, and several other copies around, so hopefully this won't cause too much inconvenience. Also, perhaps used copies are available.

In addition, there are two supplemental texts, both of which are on reserve at the library:

  • C. Kittel and H. Kroemer, Thermal Physics, 2nd edition. This is one of the standard undergraduate texts. It has many good problems, some of which I will assign.
  • Landau and Lifshitz, Statistical Physics, part 1, 3rd edition. Excellent on many, though not all, topics. One of my main sources for lecture material.

Last modified: 5-Jan-01