Ideas and methods developed in studying continuous phase transitions have become widely applied throughout physics. Renormalization-group methods are used not only for thermodynamic critical points, but for studying the onset of chaos, percolation of oil-bearing porous rock, earthquakes and avalanches at depinning transitions, quantum fluctuations, correlated metals and Fermi liquids, the motion of interfaces, and the flocking of birds and wildebeests. Conversely, new ideas from string theory and mathematics have led to a deeper understanding of critical phenomena in two dimensions. Statistical physics this semester will attempt to provide an introduction into a selection of these subjects.
The course is designed for graduate students in physics who have taken a semester of graduate-level statistical mechanics.
Statistical Mechanics: Entropy, Order Parameters, and Complexity, now available at Oxford University Press (USA, Europe).