Spring 2024: Equilibrium Statistical Mechanics

Physics 210A 

Time/Location: M W 9:30 – 10:50am; Mayer Hall Addition 5623
F 2-2:50pm (extra lecture as needed); MHA 5623
TA Discussion session: M 4-4:50pm; MHA 5623
Lecturer: Prof. Terry Hwa
phone: 4-7263; e-mail: 
TA: Brian Vermilyea
e-mail:
Office Hours: instructor (Urey 7222):  Tuesday 2:30-3:30pm
or by appointment [no email consultation on HW the day before due]
TA (MHA 5651): Monday: 5-6pm; Thursday: 2-3pm
Course URL: this page (https://matisse.ucsd.edu/s24-stat-mech/)
Grade 4 problem sets (40%); in-class mid-term (10%), and in-class final (50%).
Scheduled final time: 8-11am, Wednesday 6/12
Prerequisite: undergraduate thermodynamics and statistical mechanics; or equivalent.

Course outline

  • Introduction; review of thermodynamics and entropy
  • Classical ensemble theory and applications
  • Quantum statistical mechanics
  • Statistical mechanics of interacting systems
  • Phase transition and critical phenomena

Reference Books:

There are many textbooks on this classical subject. You may wish to consult some of the standard textbooks, e.g., those by Pathria, Huang, Landau & Lifshitz for classical and quantum stat mech, and the book by Kardar for phase transition and critical phenomena.

Course schedule (tentative):

  Date Topics assignment
L1 Mon, Apr 1 Intro to stat mech; review of thermodynamics and entropy [note] HW1 due Mon Apr 15
  Wed, Apr 3  no class  
L2 Mon, Apr 8 thermodynamic relations and potentials; microcanonical ensemble [note]
L3 Wed, Apr 10
entropy and density of states; partition function [note]
L4 Fri, Apr 12
(2-3pm)
partition function and Legendre transform; Helmholz free energy [note]
L5 Mon, Apr 15
canonical ensemble and partition function [note] HW1 soln
L6 Wed, Apr 17
maximal entropy principle; simple applications of canonical ensemble [note] HW2 due
Mon Apr 29
L7 Mon, Apr 22
paramagnetism; intro to theory of polymer 
Mon, Apr 22
(4-5pm)
TA discussion: review HW #1; help on HW#2
L8 Wed, Apr 24
polymer theory: entropic elasticity; cost of confinement 
L9 Mon, Apr 29
polymer theory: mapping to QM; delocalization transition; excluded-volume interaction  
  Mon, Apr 29
(4-5pm)
TA discussion: HW #2  
  Wed, May 1 no class (hold for TA review session)  
  Fri, May 3
(2-3pm)
in-class mid-term  
L10 Mon, May 6 Grand canonical ensemble
L11 Wed, May 8 Quantum Stat Mech: quantum many-body state; quantum distribution functions HW3 due
Wed May 22
L12 Fri, May 10
(1:30-3pm)
weak degeneracy; Virial expansion; strong degeneracy; Sommerfeld expansion