Physics 847 - Statistical Physics II - Winter 2004

Current reading assignment

Please read the low temperature part (starting at the paragraph that contains equation (7.170) to the end) of chapter 7.H.2 in the textbook. When you are done, fill out the questionnaire. The deadline for this assignment is Thursday 3/4 at 3:59am, i.e., you would be well served to finish it by Wednesday evening. You will not be graded on which answers you give but you are required to fill out the form.

Contact Information

Prof. Ralf Bundschuh

Office:Smith Lab 4052
Office hours:after class and any time I am in my office
Phone (office):(614) 688-3978
Phone (home):(614) 876-2372

Grader: Jongjoo Kim

Office:Smith Lab 4025
Office hours:by appointment
Phone:(614) 292-8782

General Information

Classes:Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:30am-12:18pm
Location:Smith Lab 2186
Web page:
First class:Tuesday, January 6
Midterm exam:Tuesday, February 10, 10:30am-12:18pm
Last class:Thursday, March 13
Final exam:Tuesday, March 16, 9:30am-11:18am
Credit hours:4
Prerequisites: 846 (statistical physics I) or equivalent

Problem Sets

Here, problem sets and their solutions will be posted as the quarter goes along.

Lecture notes

Here, you can find the lecture notes as the class progresses. Beware, these are scanned from my hand-written notes and thus rather large files.


The grades were distributed as follows:
percentagegrade midtermfinaltotal
90%-100%A 968
80%-90%A- 7610
70%-80%B+ 797
60%-70%B 332
50%-60%B- 232
40%-50%C+ 221
30%-40%C 000
20%-30%C- 010


This class will continue the overview over thermodynamics and statistical physics. At the end of this quarter we will have explored the phenomenology of systems with a large number of particles and what methods exist to deal with this large number of degrees of freedom. We will be able to make very general statements on any such system as well as to analyze specific models.

The winter quarter will cover the following topics:


Linda Reichl, A Modern Course in Statistical Physics, ISBN 0-471-59520-9

Don't be afraid about the size of the book. We will cover only selected chapters in class. Specifically, we will concentrate on the main section of chapter 7. We will also look at the density operator defined in chapter 6. At times, we will deviate from the textbook. However, the chapters and sections which we will not be able to cover make for a good reference on thermodynamics and statistical physics.

Other books

If you do not like the textbook or if you are just interested in reading things from a different point of view, you may want to look at the following textbooks. A long list of statistical mechanics graduate textbooks is also available at

Walter Greiner, Horst Stocker, and Ludwig Neise, Thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, ISBN 0-387-94299-8
Good overview of both thermodynamics and statistical physics.
Kerson Huang, Statistical mechanics, ISBN 0-471-81518-7
Very short on thermodynamics but a good book on statistical physics.
Leo P. Kadanoff, Statistical physics: statics, dynamics, and renormalization, ISBN 9-810-23758-8
Rather advanced book.


The grade for this class is determined by a weighted average of the weekly problem sets, the midterm exam and the final exam. There will be no curve grading and I hope that everybody will get an A. The final grades will be determined according to the following scheme:

Problem Sets (20%)

Problem sets will be handed out every Tuesday starting on January 6. The problem sets will also be available on the course web page. The problem sets are due the following Tuesday. Students who cannot attend class are requested to give their solutions to a fellow student or deposit them in my mailbox in the physics business office on the same day. If you have a good reason for not being able to complete your homework by the due date please contact me for approval of an extension and exclusively put it into my mailbox by the approved extended deadline. In the interest of protecting the grader from extra work due to homework trickeling in late unapproved late homework will not be accepted.

The solutions of the problem sets will be discussed during the second half of each Tuesday's class, i.e., 11:30am-12:18pm. Due to the midterm the fifth problem set will be discussed in the second half of the class on Thursday 2/12. The eigth problem set will be discussed in the first half of the class on Tuesday 3/9. Every student will have to present the solution to one problem on the board during the term. The problems will be assigned to the students in advance and the students about to present a problem are required to meet with me prior to the problem session to prepare their presentation.

You are strongly encouraged to discuss about the problem sets (and any other aspect of the class) with your fellow students. Group solutions to problem sets by two people working together are accepted. However, the solutions have to be hand-written by both students, either alternating weekly or within one week's solutions. Typed solutions will not be accepted.

Midterm Exam (40%)

The midterm exam will take place on Tuesday, February 10, 10:30am-12:18am during class. Students which have any problem with the date of the exam are asked to contact me as soon as possible. It will contain several problems which will be related to the problem sets up to the one due on February 3 (set number 4) and to the lectures up to the class on February 5. There will be one problem asking for conceptual understanding and knowledge of basic definitions. It will be a closed book exam.

Final Exam (40%)

The final exam will take place on Tuesday, March 16, 9:30am-11:18am. Students which have any problem with the date of the exam are asked to contact me as soon as possible.

The exam will contain several problems which will have a close resemblance to the problem sets of the full quarter with a strong emphasis on the second half of the quarter. There will be one problem asking for conceptual understanding and knowledge of basic definitions. It will be a closed book exam.

Reading assignments (0% but required)

From time to time reading assignments of sections of the textbook will be given. These reading assignments will be announced on top of the course web page as well as in class. On days on which reading assignments are discussed in class you have to answer some questions about the reading on the web by 3:59am the day of class. Your answers will not be graded; the only requirement is that you do take the questionnaires. However, since the answers to these questions will help focus the discussion during the class to those issues you had difficulties with during your reading, it is in your owm interest to answer these questions as honestly as possible. It is also not implausible that some of these questions might reappear on the exams. In order to get a passing grade you are not allowed more than two missed reading assignment questionnaires. If you missed more than two reading assignments during the quarter, you will have to schedule an oral examination on the missed assignments with me before obtaining a passing grade.

Attendance (0%)

Attendance during the lectures is not required. However, the problem sets will be closely related to the contents of the class and it is every students responsibility to keep up with announcements, etc., made in class if not present.

Special needs

Students with any special needs are asked to inform me at their earliest convenience.

[OSU physics] [College of Mathematical and Physical Sciences] [The Ohio State University]
4/1/2004, Ralf Bundschuh