Physics 603


Final comments: There were 151 total points on the final exam. The average was 96, the standard deviation 18, the highest score was 125, the lowest score was 76. The scoresheet is posted at the top of the Protected page. Too many points were allotted to the first page compared to the others. The few resulting anomalies were taken into account in drawing borders between grades. The grade distribution was: 1 A+, 3 A's, 2 A-'s, 2 B+'s, 3 B's, 1 B-. You are welcome to stop by my office to look at your exam.

Have a great summer. Hope you have a chance to read about some of the topics we did not cover, as well as those that troubled you during the final. Best wishes in your continued studies.

Solutions to the previous finals are now posted at the top of the Protected page.

In response to a student request for more info about diatomics, I posted a chapter from McQuarrie, which has much more than you need. Note, though, pp. 102-103 to address his question about the symmetry of orbital wave functions with different angular momenta.

A few excerpts on Landau theory are posted on the protected page, just before homework solutions.

The final will cover material from the midterm (though with much less emphasis than new material) and PB chapters 4, 5, 6 (not 6.4), 7 (not 7.5 or details of 7.6), 8 (not 8.5, 8.6), 12 (not 12.8, 12.11, details of 12.12); also section 16.2 and Figs. 13.4, 13.5. An old review guide has been added below after the old exams. Note that major new topics include diatomic molecules, Bose gases (with conserved and unconserved number), Fermi gases, van der Waals systems, Ising and related systems, Landau expansion/mean field.

Solutions to Problem Set #9 are now posted. Homework submissions will be returned in class on Tuesday.

***By unanimous consent, the final exam has been moved to start at 10:30 am on Friday May 16; it will be in the usual room, Physics 1201.***

Copies of the finals for the last two years are linked below.

The scoresheet for the midterm and the solutions to Problem Set #6 are now posted. the mean was 81.7, the standard deviation 14.1. Estimated grades: 90s: A; 80s A-; 70s B+; 60s: B; 50s: B-. But these grades are meaningless except for your information. The numerical score gets put into a formula for a cumulative score, on which the final grade will be based.

Last updated: May 15, 2014


Also listed as CHPH 718F

Instructor: Prof. Theodore L. Einstein
Room: 2310 Physics
Phone: 301-405-6147

Class: Tuesdays, Thursday 9:30 - 10:45 am, room 1201, [Toll] Physics Bldg.

Office hours: Wednesdays 11:00-11:50 am, Thursdays 10:55 - 11:55 pm, and by arrangement.

Teaching assistant (1/2-time grader): Wai Lim Ku
Room: 3336A A.V. Williams Bldg.
Phone: 301-405-8492

Office hour: Thursdays 2:00 - 3:00 pm and by arrangement.

Prerequisite: An undergraduate course on thermal physics or thermodynamics and statistical physics.

Course Text: R.K. Pathria and P.D. Beale, Statistical Mechanics, 3rd ed., Academic Press, 2011; pb [978-0123821881]. It has alibrary catalog listing as UMCP Online Resources QC174.8 .P38 2011 For your information, here is its table of contents. Please report any typos you find. Here is a list of those currently known.

Strongly Recommended (on official list at bookstore): Mehran Kardar, Statistical Physics of Particles, Cambridge, 2007 [978-0521873420]. The lecture notes on which the book is based can be freely downloaded from here .

Especially for those adept at python, a very new and affordable text by Len Sander is now available at an affordable price. He maintains a website with corrections to printing errors and downloadable versions of the python codes.

See also a long list of references at various levels, as well as the reference list for PHYS 704 a few years ago, an online compilation, and list of references on the philosophy of statistical mechanics.

Finals from 2 previous years:


Final exam, May 2012


Final exam, May 2013


Old review guide



Schedule: A tentative, based on last year's class, keyed to the various texts, now also including Sander, is displayed below. Expect several updates as the semester progresses. Topics covered in multiple texts are very likely to be covered, while those only in Pathria & Beale may be skipped. Reading assignments in column 3 should be completed before class.


DATE TOPICS Assigned Reading  Section in OTHER TEXTS
Jan. 28 Intro, books, scales P1.1 Micro&Macro . S1
Jan. 30 ThermoLaws:0,1,2 WorkTerm dW Pxxi-xxvi, K1-16 K1.1-4, C1, $3.1,3.4
Feb. 4 P1StatMech&Thermo;IsothermalIsobaricAdiabatic; Entropy K16-29 K1.5-10, S5.1,$3.2,3.5
Feb. 6 P1 Classical ideal gas; entropy of mixing P1-16 K4.4-5, S5.2-3, $3.6
Feb. 11 P2 Ensembles, phase space microcanonical P17-22, 25-34 S4, C3.1-2, $2.2
Feb. 13 P3 Canonical ensemble, heat bath & equilib, Z  P39-43,50-58 Wannier64-69,K4.6-7, S6.1-2, C3.3-4, $4.1-4.3
Feb. 18 P3 Classical systems, energy fluctuations P58-70 C3.6-7
Feb. 20 P3 Equipartition & virial thms   $2.1,4.2
Feb. 25 P3 Magnetic systems    
Feb. 27 P4 Grand canonical ensemble; density & energy fluct'ns    K4.9,S6.3, $5.1-5.2
Mar. 4 V. Yakovenko: Statistical Mechanics of Money See Web Sites page  
Mar. 6 C. Jarzynski: Work & Free Energy Away from Equilibrium See Protected page  
Mar. 11 P4 Phase boundaries; Clausius-Clapeyron; quantum stat   $8.3-
Mar. 13 P5 Quantum ensembles, density matrix,simple examples   S7.1-3, $4.4
Mar. 18/20 SPRING BREAK    
Mar. 25 P6 Ideal gases, monatomic, diatomic gases   S6.6-6.7,K6.1,C4.9,S7.6
Mar. 27 MIDTERM TEST (Thermo & P chaps 1-4)    
Apr. 1 P6 Diatomic gases, P7.1,.2 Ideal Bose systems  . K7.6,B^2-22.8
Apr. 3 P7 Superfluids, BEC of trapped atoms . $6.4-
Apr. 8 P7.3Blackbody radiation, Einstein model . K6.2-3,C4.1-3, $6.2
Apr. 10 P7.4 Debye model, Bose system recap . $6.3-
Apr. 15 P8 Ideal Fermi gas; Sommerfeld expansion & uses . K7.5, S7.7, C4.5,$7.0-7.2
Apr. 17 P8 Electron gas in metal, Cv, magnetic behavior  . S7.6.3, $7.2.2
Apr. 22 P12 Phase transitions, condensation of van der Waals . K5.3-5, K5.7, S11.1-3, C5.2-4,$8.3
Apr. 24 P12 Ising model & lattice gas, approx . S8.1, C5.1 
Apr. 29 P12 Ising model, Monte Carlo pix, role of H, clusters . S12.1-2, $9.4-9.5
May 1 P12 Ising model, mean field theory, symmetry breaking . K5.8 C6, $9.3
May 6 P12 Landau thry of phase transitions,scaling,correlations . K5.8 C6, $9.3
May 8 Ginzburg criterion; P16.2 Monte Carlo . $4,5.5,9.6
May 13 Scaling functions for phase transitions, P10 Mayer f functions, virial expansion&coef; spin waves; odds & ends, review    
May 16 FINAL EXAM  8:00-10:00 → 10:30-12:30 . .
.   .  
. Characteristic functions, cumulants   K2.2-3
.   . .
. P13.2 Transfer matrix . .
. P6 Chem. equilib . K6.3, S7.6, C4.10,W3
SUMMER P15.2-3 Brownian motion, Langevin . C8.8
READING P15.4,6 FK, Fluct'n-dissip . S10.8, C8.5
P = Pathria&Beale 3rd K = Kardar; S = Sethna;
                                      W = Widom; B^2 = Blundell&Blundell;  C = Chandler; $ = Sander


Homework will be assigned regularly (every few lectures) by posting on the Homework Assignments page below. It will count ~30% of the total score for the class. Students are welcome to discuss problems with other classmembers after thinking about them alone, but must write them up independently. Homework should thus not be viewed as a take-home exam, but each student should develop a personal command of the material. Cases of copied homework will be treated harshly. Solutions will be posted on the password-protected website on the next lecture day ("deadline date") after the due date. Thereafter, no late problem sets can be accepted for credit.

There will be a midterm test on Thursday, March 27, and a final exam officially slated on Friday, May 16, 8-10 am, now moved to 10:30-12:30.  The tests will count about 30% and 40%, respectively, of the total score on which grades will be based. These tests will emphasize parts of stat mech problems from previous qualifier exams as well as variants of homework problems. The only acceptable excuses for missing a test are those established by the university: religious holiday [which I have avoided, to the best of my knowledge], illness, or an official university event.


Informal Statistical Mechanics Seminar, Tuesdays, 1:15pm, IPST Rm. 1116 (will update when available)


CNAM Colloquium (Condensed Matter Seminar), Thursdays, 2:00 pm, Physics Rm. 1201


CMTC Talks (Condensed Matter Theory Center), Physics Rm. 2205, mostly Tuesdays, 11:00 am


Joint Quantum Institute Seminar, Mondays, 11:00 am, CSS Bldg., room 2400

Academic Integrity: The University of Maryland, College Park has a nationally recognized Code of Academic Integrity, administered by the Student Honor Council. This Code sets standards for academic integrity at Maryland for all undergraduate and graduate students. As a student you are responsible for upholding these standards for this course. It is very important for you to be aware of the consequences of cheating, fabrication, facilitation, and plagiarism. For more information on the Code of Academic Integrity or the Student Honor Council, please visit

Physics Department, University of Maryland,
College Park, MD 20742-4111
Phone: 301.405.3401 Fax: 301.314.9525
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