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The replica trick consists of the formula:

$$\overline{\log Z}=\lim_{n\rightarrow0}\frac{1}{n}\log\overline{Z^{n}} \tag{1}$$

where $Z$ is the partition function of a system and the overbar denotes an average (see for example The "replica trick" initial formula?).

When was this trick used for the first time? Is there an original reference?

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  • $\begingroup$ Possibly better on History of Science and Mathematics. I (or another mod) can migrate it if you would like. Just comment to that effect. $\endgroup$ – dmckee Aug 1 '17 at 14:44
  • $\begingroup$ @dmckee Can we leave it here for a few days? If it does not get responses I'll request to migrate it. $\endgroup$ – becko Aug 1 '17 at 15:09
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This was apparently first done in Section 3 of the following paper (although Edwards used similar ideas in another context, see the paper at the end of this answer for more information):

S.F. Edwards, P.W. Anderson, Theory of Spin glasses, J. Phys. F 5:965-964, 1975.

See this paper for a historical account by one the original authors.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. The recollection of Edwards is a nice short read. $\endgroup$ – becko Sep 3 '18 at 14:18

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