Statistical Physics attempts to explain macroscopic phenomena in terms of underlying microscopic laws. The large-scale behavior of systems, which we characterize by means of a small number of variables, emerges after eliminating the many microscopic degrees of freedom of their fundamental constituents. These generally unobservable degrees of freedom are far too numerous to follow, but precisely for this reason they can be treated The key topics to be covered in every "Introduction to Statistical Physics" course only vary in small degrees. Central to all discussions is an understanding of some essential probability theory, statistical ensembles, the connection to thermodynamics, various illuminating model systems (such as the ideal gas or the harmonic crystal), and some good approximation schemes to deal with all those problems that can’t be solved exactly. In this course, we will begin with the (classical) ideal gas, introduce the notion of entropy, then move on to an overview of thermodynamics, and return to visit statistical mechanical ensembles (microcanonical, canonical, grand canonical). The necessary probability theory will be filled in as we go. We then extend the treatment to quantum statistical physics, visiting some of the famous example problems like black body radiation and Bose-Einstein condensation.
There will be one midterm and one final exam, the dates of which will be announced soon.
Dept of Physics | 5000 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213 | (412) 268-2740 |
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