In this concise classic, Paul Ehrenfest ― one of the twentieth century's greatest physicists ― reformulated the foundations of the statistical approach in mechanics. Originally published in 1912, this classic has lost little of its scientific and didactic value, and is suitable for advanced undergraduate and graduate students of physics and historians of science.
Part One describes the older formulation of statistico-mechanical investigations (kineto-statistics of the molecule). Part Two takes up the modern formulation of kineto-statistics of the gas model, and Part Three explores W. B. Gibbs's major work, Elementary Principles in Statistical Mechanics and its coverage of such topics as the problem of axiomatization in kineto-statistics, the introduction of canonical and microcanonical distributions, and the analogy to the observable behavior of thermodynamic systems. The book concludes with the authors' original notes, a series of useful appendixes, and a helpful bibliography.