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Let us briefly
review the material that we have covered in this course so far.
We started off
by studying the mathematics of probability. We then used probabilistic
reasoning to analyze the dynamics of many-particle systems, a subject area
known as statistical mechanics. Next, we explored the physics of heat and
work, the study of which is termed thermodynamics. The final step in our
investigation is to
combine statistical mechanics with thermodynamics. In other words, to
investigate heat and work via statistical arguments. This discipline is
called statistical thermodynamics, the study of which will form the central subject matter
of this course.
This chapter constitutes an introduction to the fundamental concepts
of statistical thermodynamics. The remaining chapters will then
explore the various applications of these concepts.