Statistical Mechanics aims to provide a macroscopic description of a physical system starting from knowledge of its microscopic properties. The methodology and techniques are widely used throughout condensed matter physics and are also today being applied to understand the dynamics of model ecologies, economies and societies. In these lectures, we will revisit the equilibrium properties of matter – such as phase transitions and universality – from the perspective of dynamics (as opposed to statics, as is typically done in undergraduate courses). Then we will examine successively further-from-equilibrium systems, ending with a discussion of fluctuations in driven systems, a subject currently generating considerable excitement in this field.
Richard Blythe is a Reader at the University of Edinburgh. Since his PhD days, he has been researching models and theories for nonequilibrium dynamical systems. Applications of these models include transport in biological systems, traffic flow, population dynamics and language change.