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Let us briefly
review the material which we have covered so far in this course.
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*, and forms the central subject matter
of this course.
This section is devoted to the study of the fundamental concepts
of statistical thermodynamics. The remaining sections will then
explore the application and elucidation of these concepts.

Richard Fitzpatrick
2006-02-02