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fluctuations in statistical mechanics

January 3, 2010

The concept of fluctuations is a fundamental part of statistical mechanics, yet many introductory textbooks are quite vague about the difference between statistical uncertainty and temporal fluctuations. This can lead to much confusion for a student who is new to the subject (it certainly did for me). This paper clarifies the distinction between these two kinds of fluctuations and gives sufficient conditions for their equality. PDF

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