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Recomendations for the best Statistical Mechanics books

  1. Dec 1, 2003 #1
    I'm planing on learning Statistical Mechanics by myself. I would like to hear recomendations on what you think are the best Statistical Mechanics books. My interest right now would be books that are on a undergraduate level, with detailed explanation, examples and problems, but you could also recomend higher level books for future references. Please, include your opinion on why you think is good.

    If this have been discussed before, or if you know a link with info about this, let me know too by posting the complete link. Thanks in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 1, 2003 #2
    I'm mostly familiar with the more advanced books... I like Chandler, because it's modern and clear (but it's a short book, so it doesn't go into a lot of detail). Pathria has more detail and covers more topics; it's a thorough text. I dislike Huang, which I thought was confusing or unmotivated in places, and I also dislike Kittel and Kroemer's undergraduate Thermal Physics as being too superficial (I think they have other stat mech books though). I've heard mixed opinions of Reif; it's often recommended, but I've never used it myself.
  4. Dec 6, 2003 #3
    Didn't see this until today.

    An undergraduate text which is reasonably modern is Thermal Physics by Ralph Baierlein. Since it's available as a Dover reprint and is therefore nicely priced, Introduction to Statistical Thermodynamics by Terrell Hill would probably be worth the effort to find. As for Reif, I have no great urge to recommend it despite it being on my bookshelf from my undergrad days. I've been told An Introduction to Thermal Physics by Daniel Schroeder (of Peskin & Schroeder QFT text fame) is quite good, but have not read or used the book myself.

    As for higher level texts, I second the recommendation for Pathria and to avoid Huang. If your interests are more inclined towards chemical physics, you may want to take a look at MacQuarrie, although YMMW for that one. You of course have the two volume statistical physics set from R. Kubo & Co (Springer Series in Solid State Sciences), the first of which covers equilibrium stat. mech. and the second NESM. I've been told Robert Zwanzig's NESM tome is nice, although must admit have not looked at it yet.

    In terms of specialty books, Allen & Tildesley's Computer Simulation of Liquids is a nice intro to actually doing MC and MD if you're into that sort of thing. A bit on the well worn side (last update was late 1980s), but nice if you're a newcomer.
  5. Dec 30, 2003 #4
    I just finished reading Schroeder's Thermal Physics and found it explains concepts well but could use more examples. The author expects you to read every single problem whether you do it or not and there are some problems you must do or you will be missing an important concept.

    For example, you have to derive the maxwell relations yourself. Schroeder doesn't even give you the answers for use in other problems!

    The main defect for self study is that there are no answers to the problems in the text whatsoever so you get no feedback. You may have really learned something or just think you have.
  6. Jan 21, 2004 #5
    I found that the following reference is a good book to start with for statistical mechanics

    Statistical Physics (Manchester Physics Series)
    by F. Mandl, John Wiley and Sons Ltd

    it has quite many clear examples and it carries you through the different physical concepts step by step.
  7. Jan 27, 2004 #6

    Tom Mattson

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    By all means, stay away from Huang's book. I took Stat Mech with that book, and the professor was equally obtuse, so I was really lost. Wish I had known about Pathria at the time: go with that one.
  8. Jan 29, 2004 #7
    Re: Re: Recomendations for the best Statistical Mechanics books

    I'm about to start a grad level course using Chandler. The brief perusing I've done, I would agree - it appears that it gets directly to the point. As a bonus, tackles modern problems, such as monte carlo simulations.

    I had Reif as an undergrad, and still refer to this today - II think Chandler might not be the best recommendation for someone who hasn't had previous experience? I would go with Reif, it spends a bit more time on some of the fundamental basics (such as random walk) and has quite a few more worked out examples.
  9. Jan 29, 2004 #8
    I like S.K. Ma's book Statistical Mechanics.
    From a different perspective there is Roberson's "Statistical Themophysics" which is good though somewhat mathematical.

    Recently I saw Leo Kadanoff had a new book out on Stat Mech that looked fairly interesting and easy to read.
  10. Mar 2, 2004 #9
    My choices would be:

    Introductory level:
    Thermal Physics
    by C. Kittel and H. Kroemer.
    (this one has pretty much the same content as "Thermal Physics" by Kittel alone, but a LOT better organized)

    Advanced level:
    Course of Theoretical Physics, Volume 5:
    Statistical Physics, Part 1
    by L. D. Landau and E. M. Lifshi.tz (Lifshi.tz is without the dot, but if I put it all together the forum thinks I'm cursing and puts Lif****z)

    More advanced level:
    Course of Theoretical Physics, Volume 9:
    Statistical Physics, Part 2
    by L. D. Landau and E. M. Lifshi.tz (Lifshi.tz is without the dot, but if I put it all together the forum thinks I'm cursing and puts Lif****z)
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2004
  11. Mar 3, 2004 #10

    Dr Transport

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    BlackBaron has a good point, I'd just make the following additions.

    Statistical Physics by F. Reif (Berkley Series). Commonly known as Baby Reif.

    Statistical and Thermal Physics by F Reif.

    Do the Berkely series first, it will get you going then do the second book. I then could work with Landau's book more easily.

  12. Jan 2, 2012 #11
    For a good self study guide, I would suggest Blundell and Blundell's "Concepts in Thermal Physics" it builds up the thermodynamics part for a good 1/3 of the book but then the rest is statistical mech, has several applications of both, many practical and it includes several discussions in advanced topics, my favorite was the derivation of Onsager's reciprocal relations for non-equilibrium stat mech. Reiff and Pathria would be good follow ups, then an excursion to the stat physics 1 and 2 of Landau with a good math physics book, maybe like Arfken and Weber.
  13. Feb 28, 2012 #12
    I took an undergraduate course in stat mech last semester and we used Reif, which was good. However, the best source I found for an easy to understand overview was online: http://farside.ph.utexas.edu/teaching/sm1/statmech.pdf

    That source actually helped me more than Reif in understanding it conceptually.
  14. Feb 28, 2012 #13
    The books I've found useful are:

    Schroeder (as mentioned above)
    Blundell and Blundell's Concepts in Thermal Physics
    Kardar's Statistical Physics of Particles

    Schroeder is the best for teaching yourself the elementary stuff. Blundell and Blundell is also a good intro-level book but covers a bit more and seems to be somewhat more thorough. Kardar is a graduate level book but it's pretty well respected: apparently Kardar's MIT statmech course is so popular that Harvard grads take a bus over there so they can learn from Kardar.

    Most of Kardar's book is actually online since he posts course notes which seem to be verbatim from the book. The website is here: http://web.mit.edu/8.333/www/lectures/index.html

    Also, Blackbaron, a lot of people use the spelling Lifschitz.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2012
  15. Mar 2, 2012 #14
    I'm in a course using "Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics" by Claude Garrod at the moment. The book is incredibly challenging for an undergraduate course, but I find that I'm learning more in this course then I've ever learned before. The problem sets are particularly challenging and there are no answers given. The author did include, however, a set of about 30 example problems for each chapter that are a step harder then the end of chapter problems that you can learn and compare to.

    The whole effect is that you are forced to think extremely critically about the content and you either adapt or fail. I'm finding the adapting process to be rather enlightening.
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