I know this is a big question. But as a graduate student, my research is somehow related to nonequilibrium thermodynamics/statistical mechanics. TBH, I hate how some research treat this subject like a mystery and use some theories carelessly. So I want to learn the subject at my own pace. I have finished Fermi Enrico's "thermodynamics" for a start. And I'm reading Terrell Hill's "introduction to statistical thermodynamics." Although I am pretty satisfied with the content of these two books, I have no idea where should I go from here.

Because I expect my future research will still be based on nonequilibrium thermo/stat mech, I need a booklist to guide me from "knowing something" to "knowing something advanced." In the meantime, I hope I can equip myself with advanced mathematics by going through the booklist. Can anyone provide some ideas on this?

Thanks for the reminder from Endulum. To be more precise, my research interests include the particle diffusion in crystal materials and phase transition. And I also expect to do some research in the future about the transport of heat and charged species in the liquid or solid phase.

P.S., I am not looking for working understanding of this subject. A solid but accessible booklist would be perfect.


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    $\begingroup$ "Non-equilibrium statistical mechanics" means different things to different people. I think you will get better recommendations if you can speak more to your specific interests. Classical or quantum? Few-body or many-body? $\endgroup$ – Endulum Oct 3 '18 at 21:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Endulum, Thanks for your reminder, please see my updated post. $\endgroup$ – Sizhe Oct 3 '18 at 22:00
  • $\begingroup$ Possible duplicates: physics.stackexchange.com/q/256895/2451 , physics.stackexchange.com/q/226929/2451 and links therein. $\endgroup$ – Qmechanic Oct 4 '18 at 15:33
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your comments, statistical field theory seems too advanced to me right now. I'll take a look after I got the idea of nonequilibrium stat mech. @Qmechanic $\endgroup$ – Sizhe Oct 5 '18 at 20:10

I'm going to concentrate on the statistical mechanics side of the question here.

My first recommendation would be Introduction to Modern Statistical Mechanics by David Chandler (Oxford University Press, 1987). This book is not particularly long, but it covers a broad range of material, and is very well written. As well as reprising your knowledge of classical thermodynamics concisely, it introduces statistical ensembles in a clear way, and moves on from the standard "ideal" systems to systems of interacting particles. There is a chapter on phase transitions, and one on the statistical mechanics of non-equilibrium systems (which covers linear response theory, fluctuation-dissipation, and related things). So it seems like a good fit with what you want.

Secondly, I'm inclined to recommend Statistical mechanics: theory and molecular simulation by Mark Tuckerman (Oxford University press, 2010), but with some caveats. This is not a short book: it grew out of the lecture notes accompanying Tuckerman's graduate course(s), and is full of detail. A fair fraction of the book discusses molecular dynamics simulation methods, which are intimately connected to some of the statistical mechanics being discussed. For me this is a "plus" point, but perhaps it will not be so relevant to you. As well as the standard topics (ensembles, statistical mechanics of ideal systems, the Langevin equation, and a chapter on critical phenomena that basically scratches the surface) there are a few topics that are hard to find elsewhere. The connection between nonequilibrium statistical mechanics and the underlying hamiltonian and non-hamiltonian dynamical equations, is well explained here. He introduces the Jarzynski equality, which has had a big impact on our understanding of the relation between work and free energy in nonequilibrium processes (along with the Crooks fluctuation theorem, and other fluctuation theorems, which you may have to research elsewhere). He also gives a good account of Feynman's path integral formulation of quantum mechanics. So, a good book to dip into, and read the relevant sections.

Finally, I'm going to suggest taking a look at An Introduction to Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics by Robert Swendsen (Oxford University Press, 2012), again with some caveats. This is a refreshingly different account of some familiar topics in the area of statistical thermodynamics. The novelty comes from the starting point, in probability theory, entropy, and the molecular description. Mathematical techniques are introduced along the way, as needed. Some "standard" thermodynamics equations (such as Maxwell relations) don't appear until nearly half way through. According to some reviews, there are a lot of typographical errors (I can't say that I've counted them), so that's probably a "minus" point. The coverage of nonequilibrium phenomena probably falls short of what you need; there's almost nothing on dynamics. But it covers phase transitions very well, and in general it does give an interesting perspective.


Non-equilibrium Thermodynamics by de Groot and Mazur is a classic reference. It is a thorough phenomenological account of irreversible thermodynamics. The first half discusses foundational principles: conservation laws, entropy production, Onsager reciprocity, statistical-mechanical foundations of thermodynamics, and the connection to the kinetic theory of fluids. The second half is on "applications," which treats chemical reactions, heat conduction and diffusion, viscosity and elasticity, electrical conduction, polarizable (i.e., electromagnetic) media, and discontinuous interfaces. I appreciate that these application sections are largely self-contained; I find I can read relatively smoothly without needing to constantly flip back and forth to past sections, except for the occasional basic definition or result from an early chapter. The writing is clear and direct, and the notation is consistent. A introductory course in equilibrium thermodynamics and statistical mechanics is sufficient background to understand this book. Some familiarity with fluid mechanics and/or gas kinetic theory help with certain topics but are not strictly necessary.


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