3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Highly recommend for its clarity and timely publication,
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This review is from: Farewell to Entropy, A: Statistical Thermodynamics Based on Information (Paperback)
This text, while not intended as a textbook for lecturing in a university course, nevertheless has many aspects to it which would make the book a good teaching tool as well as excellent "extra reading" listed in many course outlines.
It is intended to highlight the weaknesses of current approaches to statistical mechanics/thermodynamics. It approaches the subject not from the position of the second law and entropy as usually taught in such courses but rather from the more general position of Shannon Information which allows the objective study of information (without precisely defining it). This is constructed either for discrete or continuous probabilistic processes such as twenty question games which emphasise the usefulness of this approach.
The author starts with probability, outlining the basic concepts required to understand its use in Information Theory as developed by Shannon. This includes the concepts of sample space, the field of events as well as conditional probability, relative frequencies, Bayes theorem, random variables and probability distributions. These ideas provide the basis for a study of Shannon's information theory, especially the so-called H function and the concept of missing information (MI). This last concept plays a vital role in the ability to express the entropy in terms of such missing information meaning the number of questions one needs to ask in order to, for example, locate a given particle.
In the following chapters he uses this approach to study the standard spontaneous processes explained in the usual statistical mechanics courses although from the more general viewpoint of MI which does not require a state of equilibrium in order to be useful. These include: expansion of an ideal gas, the mixing process, assimilation and deassimilation.
An excellent book for university students trying to understand entropy and the second law of thermodynamics through the use of Shannon's information theory. In some sense the other two booklets by the same author: "Entropy Demystified" and "Discover Entropy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics" are extra reading as supplements to this text in order to simplify the ideas as much as possible for the lay reader.
It is remarkable how difficult these concepts can be to understand and how subtle some of the underlying main ideas are. This book does much to remove some of the more inaccurate expressions found in some textbooks including some university texts. For example, it delimits the use of the idea of "disorder" to understand the physical basis of entropy and the second law. It also puts paid to the use of the famous "splattered eggs don't unsplatter" or the "teenagers messy bedroom" phrases so often used even by scientists who should know better.
I highly recommend this book for its clarity and timely publication.