Boltzmann, Gibbs, and the concept of equilibrium

Philosophy of Science 75 (5):682-696 (2008)
The Boltzmann and Gibbs approaches to statistical mechanics have very different definitions of equilibrium and entropy. The problems associated with this are discussed, and it is suggested that they can be resolved, to produce a version of statistical mechanics incorporating both approaches, by redefining equilibrium not as a binary property (being/not being in equilibrium) but as a continuous property (degrees of equilibrium) measured by the Boltzmann entropy and by introducing the idea of thermodynamic‐like behavior for the Boltzmann entropy. The Kac ring model is used as an example to test the proposals. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Mathematics, King’s College, London WC2R 2LS, U.K.; e‐mail:
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Jill North (2010). An Empirical Approach to Symmetry and Probability. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 41 (1):27-40.
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