Here’s the third lecture from the Rotman Summer Institute on Foundations of Statistical Mechanics from July 14-20, 2013. Lots more to come.

In this lecture, David Wallace discusses statistical mechanics and its machinery. As he notes, it’s easy to get the impression, from looking at philosophical and foundational literature on statistical mechanics, that the primary goal of statistical mechanics is to offer an appropriate microscopic underpinning of thermodynamics. To guard against this impression, Wallace offers an overview of what statistical mechanics, as used in contemporary physics, actually does, over and above its supposed foundational role. In the first half of this lecture, Wallace outlines the actual methods and (broad level) techniques of equilibrium statistical mechanics. In the second half, he outlines the actual methods and techniques of non-equilibrium statistical mechanics. Wallace suggests that any satisfactory conceptual account of statistical mechanics must succeed not simply at underpinning the general predictions of thermodynamics, but also the predictive and explanatory success of statistical mechanics itself.

Photos of flipcharts used in this presentation are here.

Thanks to Josh Luczak for editing the video, and writing the above precis of the lecture.