Physics 210A : Course Description

Subject Matter and Course Materials
The subject matter of Physics 210A is statistical physics. We will cover the following material: (1) statistical ensembles, (ii) thermodynamics, (iii) quantum statistics, (iv) classical interacting systems, and (v) mean field theory of phase transitions.

I will largely be following my lecture notes.
At the beginning of each chapter of my notes, I list some recommended texts. There are too many to place on reserve in the S&E Library, but if you are having trouble finding a book please contact me.  While there is no official course text, I would recommend you purchase at lease one of the following books, which you can order through :

1) Luca Peliti, "Statistical Mechanics in a Nutshell" (Princeton)
2) Michel Le Bellac, Fabrice Moressagne, and G. George Batrouni, "Equilibrium and Non-Equilibrium Statistical Thermodynamics" (Cambridge)

Course Web Site
Lecture notes and reading assignments, important announcements, homework assignments and solutions will all be available through the course web site. Please check it before each lecture to see if there have been any recent updates. The notes themselves are essentially complete (I am working on a final chapter on renormalization, which we will not cover anyway), but I may make some editorial changes or additions as we go along. On the lecture notes page, you will find links to chapter summaries and to worked example problems. There is an enormous amount of material here from which you can learn quite a bit. If you find any errors in the notes, I would greatly appreciate it if you would alert me via email.

On the course home page, I have included a number of links to potentially useful websites.

Problem Sets
I will try to assign one problem set per week, due at the beginning of the following Tuesday's class. Problem sets will not be printed out for you, but rather will be available through the course website. You are encouraged to discuss the problem sets with your fellow students. I suggest that you initially try to do the problems by yourselves, so that you can more accurately identify your confusions and honestly assess your weaknesses. Then, before you write up your assignment, get together with some of your fellow students to talk over the problems and hammer out the details. Solutions to problem sets will be posted on the course website. Hopefully the solutions and your graded assignments will be made available in a timely manner, but invariably there are lags from time to time.

Discussion/Problem Sessions
We are fortunate to have a TA/grader for this class, Jonathan Lam. Jonathan will be leading the problem sessions (TBA). During these sessions, you will break up into groups to discuss/solve the homework assignment.

Office hours
My office hours are scheduled for Wednesdays, 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm in MH 5438. Jonathan's office hours are TBA.

Course grade
The magic formula: 40% problem sets, 50% comprehensive final, 10% intangibles (e.g. personal hygiene, taste in music, sense of humor [= laughing at my jokes], etc.).