Probability and statistics in Boltzmann's early papers on kinetic theory


Authors
Massimiliano Badino
Università degli Studi di Verona
Abstract
Boltzmann’s equilibrium theory has not received by the scholars the attention it deserves. It was always interpreted as a mere generalization of Maxwell’s work or, in the most favorable case, a sketch of some ideas more consistently developed in the 1872 memoir. In this paper, I try to prove that this view is ungenerous. My claim is that in the theory developed during the period 1866-1871 the generalization of Maxwell’s distribution was mainly a mean to get a more general scope: a theory of the equilibrium of a system of mechanical points from a general point of view. To face this issue Boltzmann analyzed and discussed probabilistic assumptions so that his equilibrium theory cannot be considered a purely mechanical theory. I claim also that the special perspective adopted by Boltzmann and his view about probabilistic requirements played a role in the transition to the non equilibrium theory of 1872.
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The Rise of Statistical Thinking, 1820-1900.Theodore M. Porter - 1986 - Princeton University Press: Princeton.

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