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Other Statistical Mechanics book replacement for Pathria

  1. Oct 28, 2016 #1
    I'm reading Statistical Mechanics 3rd Edition by Pathria and I found his discussion some very confusing, it's like he discussed a lot of things but I still end up asking, "so what now?" I've looked into Kardar's book but found it too terse. Can anybody recommend some books that fits my situation or that can REPLACE Pathria? Based on my searches, graduate books are:

    Introduction to Modern Statistical Mechanics by Chandler (Can anyone clarify if this is a graduate books at the same level as Pathria)
    Statistical Mechanics: Entropy, Order Parameters and Complexity by Sethna (I heard great things about this book, can anyone with experience comment on this?)
    Statistical Mechanics in a Nutshell by Peliti
    Statistical Mechanics 2nd Edition by Huang (Hated by most)
    Statistical Physics 3rd Edition by Landau (Why don't I see universities use this book as the main text? I thought Landau's books are graduate level and very famous?)

    Last edited: Oct 28, 2016
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 28, 2016 #2


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    I am the wrong person to answer your question, but Sethna has a pdf of his book online so you can look at it for yourself. It does have limitations on fair use (printing, etc.) but you can legally read it electronically.


  4. Oct 29, 2016 #3
    Do you have any experience with Sethna's book? Based on the contents, I think this is the kind of book that heavily relies on problems for learning than teaching?
  5. Oct 29, 2016 #4


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    Landau and Lifshitz vol. V is excellent. I guess it's rarely used as a text in university lectures since it's considered to difficult, and I'd also recommend it only as advanced reading. On the other hand the entire "Course on Theoretical Physics" is a good example for the "no-nonsense style" of theoretical physics with exactly the amount of mathematics needed to treat the problems at hand (and also not less). The only exception is vol. IV on QED. Although it contains a lot of material not contained in modern books, it's quite outdated, particularly since it doesn't use the path-integral approach to treat gauge theories (and QED is an Abelian gauge theory).
  6. Oct 29, 2016 #5
    I agree with vanhees71 regarding LL V5. If you do not like Pathria, you will probably dislike LLV5 or Huang. Chandler is very short, and does not cover the same material as those others, although it is sometimes used as a graduate text.

    Although Reif, Stat Mech is usually undergraduate, I have seen some grad schools use it as their graduate textbook. The fact is Stat Mech does seem to be confusing when reading the first time. Stat Mech should probably be the last gradiate course taught in a sequence (because it is multi-particle), and instead it is often taught early.

    Huang may be hated by most but its worth a look.
  7. Oct 30, 2016 #6
    How about Greiner's book? Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics, based on the contents it seems to have the topics of a graduate level course using, say Pathria. But some post here indicate that Greiner's book is undergraduate level buy maybe because it is very accessible?
  8. Oct 30, 2016 #7


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    I have casually read portions of Sethna. I agree that the problems are the primary content of the book, although I find some of the discussions concise and enlightening - in particular chapters 1-6. At the time I was most interested in linear response formalism and the classical fluctuation-dissipation theorem, and Sethna isn't bad on that topic. Chandler isn't bad on that topic, either.

    Another free book that may be worth a look can be found at Caltech:
    Chapters 3-6 cover statistical physics.

    Although my grad concentration was plasma physics, I am an electrical engineer not a physicist, so self-taught myself statmech out of Reif and never really went beyond that except in very specific areas like kinetic theory of plasmas and fluctuation-dissipation theory. So I really am the wrong person to help you much. I wish you success in your search for a suitable book for you.

  9. Oct 30, 2016 #8
    Figaro mentioned.

    I do have Greiner's book. I have not read it completely, but I did examine the topics and page through it. I think it is certainly graduate level.

    Greiner, Neise, Stocker, Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics. I think this is excellent. I do think it is easier to understand than Pathria. This was not available when I was learning or TA ing for grad level stat mech.

    I only have a few Greiner series but all of the ones I have seem to be good.

    I think this should give anybody suitable background in Stat Mech and Thermo. I think I am going to examine the sections on density matrix over the next few days.
  10. Oct 31, 2016 #9
    Great! I also think that Greiner's Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics book is very comprehensive and top notch. I believe that the quality of a graduate book doesn't depend on "how hard it is to read that book", by hard I mean that it is very confusing and unorganized (somehow no care was given in the presentation). Graduate books are hard because the topics are advanced and undergraduate skills are assumed so some steps will be skipped, but it shouldn't sacrifice clarity and organization. For example, Landau's books are considered terse because he assumes a lot from the reader but the quality is very high (clear, organized, and lots of unique insights). This is also the case in Greiner's books but with more steps and examples (I think this shouldn't be confused by saying that it is at a lower level than Landau, because by level we are pertaining to the topics, not the details of, say derivations and examples). For me, Pathria is not a very good but also not the worst, there are some places were Pathria is clear but clarity is not generally maintained.
  11. Oct 31, 2016 #10


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