I've grown very interested in statistical mechanics ever since I took my first course in it. However, it feels like it is just overflowing with many types of problems and plenty of categories to consider.

For example, a quick search of just phase transitions led to this big list:

1-dimensional phase transitions
First-order transitions
Gas-liquid phase transitions
Glass transition
Isotropic-nematic phase transition
Jamming transition
Kosterlitz-Thouless transition
Landau theory of second-order phase transitions
Liquid-liquid phase transitions
Martensitic phase transitions
Nematic-smectic phase transition
Nonequilibrium phase transitions
Order-disorder transitions
Quantum phase transitions
Second-order transitions
Solid-liquid phase transitions
Topological phase transitions
Vapour-liquid phase transitions

Considering how phase transitions are just an aspect of stat mech and each of these can be applied (at least I suspect) to countless physical systems I think a depth first approach is pretty useless for someone like me at the moment.

The field is just initially so daunting that it seems hard to explore with a roadmap of the interesting features.

My question is:

Are there a good outline of the more complicated side of statistical mechanics that I can use to basically just get a brief introduction to a comprehensive list of terms I'll need to know to effectively add statistical physics to my list of toolkits for solving problems. Extra kudos if this outline includes many examples of physical systems that utilize each model.


Before answering, please see our policy on resource recommendation questions. Please write substantial answers that detail the style, content, and prerequisites of the book, paper or other resource. Explain the nature of the resource so that readers can decide which one is best suited for them rather than relying on the opinions of others. Answers containing only a reference to a book or paper will be removed!

closed as too broad by CuriousOne, JamalS, ACuriousMind, Kyle Kanos, John Rennie Dec 31 '14 at 14:37

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If "brief but comprehensive" had been an option in the stone age, we would have had interstellar travel some 18,000 years ago. If you want to get a significant level of understanding of any topic you will have to do a significant amount of work. $\endgroup$ – CuriousOne Dec 31 '14 at 10:26
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I meant brief in depth and comprehensive in breadth. $\endgroup$ – Skyler Dec 31 '14 at 19:29
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ At the moment I'm just looking for a primer on the various topics with some light discussion on how they are used to try and decide on what to really dig into next. $\endgroup$ – Skyler Dec 31 '14 at 19:34