Foundations of Physics

, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 853–866 | Cite as

On randomness and thermodynamics

  • W. T. GrandyJr.
Part II. Invited Papers Dedicated To Henry Margenau


The past decade has witnessed significant advances in our understanding of nonlinear systems, both theoretically and experimentally. In turn, these insights have led to applications over a broad range of subjects, as well as to new interpretations of complex behavior. Inevitably, it seems, there has been a concomitant rush to re-interpret various well-understood aspects of thermodynamic behavior in manybody systems by means of these mechanisms. It is perhaps useful, therefore, to examine these notions critically, and in doing so we are able to illuminate somewhat the origins of, and motivations for, various dubious descriptions of these systems. Among other things, one notices in such discussions an unfortunate focus on “randomness,” rather than on the actual role of probabilities in describing the phenomena. Although valuable insights into some areas of complex behavior have arisen from studies of so-called “deterministic chaos,” we can detect no influence they may have on the predictions of statistical mechanics, and thus conclude that they are of little relevance to the thermodynamic behavior of large systems.


Nonlinear System Actual Role Statistical Mechanic Valuable Insight Large System 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. T. GrandyJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physics and AstronomyUniversity of WyomingLaramie

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