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Physics 3341 Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics


Lectures: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 10.10am-11.00am, Rockefeller Hall  110.
Section: Thursday, 3.35pm-4.25pm, Rockefeller Hall 112.

Professor: Itai Cohen,
508 Clark Hall, tel. 5-0815,
Office hours: Tuesday 3pm-4pm and Wednesday 9.00am -10.00am, and by appointment.

Teaching Assistant:  Yariv Yanay
620 Clark Hall,

Office hours:

Course webpage:

Statistical and Thermal Physics, F. Reif, McGraw Hill, 1965.
The Signal and the Noise, Nate Silver, Penguin Group, 2012.

Additional or alternative literature:
Introductory Statistical Mechanics, R. Bowley and M. Sanchez Second Ed. Oxford Science Publications, 2004.
Reasoning about Luck: Probability and its uses in Physics, V. Ambegaokar, Cambridge University Press, 1996.
Entropy, Order Parameters, and Complexity: A Broad View of Statistical Physics, J. P. Sethna, Cornell University, 2004.
Elementary Principles of Statistical Mechanics, J. W. Gibbs, Dover, 1960.
Statistical Mechanics: A concise introduction for Chemists, B. Widom, Cambridge University Press, 2002.

These books are held on reserve in the Mathematics Library (Malott Hall).

Course syllabus and reading assignments

Lecture notes week 1

Lecture notes week 2

Lecture notes week 3

Lecture notes week 4

Lecture notes week 5

Lecture notes week 6

Lecture notes week 7

Lecture notes week 8

Lecture notes week 9

Lecture notes week 10

Lecture notes week 11

Lecture notes week 12

Lecture notes week 13

Homework: Approximately 11 weekly homework assignments.
Homework is due on Mondays and will be handed back on the following Thursday.

Quizes: Bi-weekly quizes will be held in section.

Class Projects:

Prelims: In class, October 17th and November 21st.

Makeup exams will be oral unless the original exam date conflicts with a religious holiday or students have made alternative arrangement with the instructor.

Final grade: based on homework (15%), bi-weekly quizzes and participation (10%), one class project (25%), two prelims (50%).

Academic Integrity: Each student in this course is expected to abide by the Cornell University Code of Academic Integrity. You are allowed to discuss the subject and the homework problems with others. However, you should write up the homework by yourself and acknowledge all sources including a list of people you worked with. Moreover, only you will be held responsible for all the content you submit.

Socratic Teaching Method: Class participation is mandatory. Everyone is expected to participate in discussions relating to reading materials, homework, exams and lectures.

Guaranteed Recipe for Success:
1) Take notes during lecture and sections.
2) After each lecture but before the next lecture review your notes. Identify the parts you do not understand.
3) Come to each lecture and discussion section with specific questions.
4) Keep up with the reading so that you have some familiarity with each topic prior to hearing about it in the lecture
5) Find at least one "partner" in the class with whom you can meet at least once or twice a week to discuss materials from the lectures, the reading assignments and the homework.
6) Take the homework assignment seriously. Do not try to do the whole assignment the night before it is due. Some version of the homework questions will appear on the exams.
Learning Strategies:

contains information about the resources at the Learning Strategies Center. Downloadable pdf's on study skills and time management can be found at: