Information-Theoretic Approach: Application to Molecular Collisions

  • R. D. Levine
  • J. L. Kinsey


What we now know as information theory(1,2) was introduced by Shannon(3) and Wiener(4) in the late 1940s. Like thermodynamics, the need for the theory was motivated by very practical considerations. Just as the question “Are there natural limits to the conversion of heat into mechanical energy?” prompted Carnot’s formulation of the second law of thermodynamics, the question “Are there theoretical limitations to the number of messages that can be reliably transmitted via a communication channel?” led Shannon to the second theorem of information theory. It is not our purpose here to review the rest of the story but to present a utilitarian summary of the current practice of information theoretic methods in the study of molecular collisions. The area has been previously reviewed(5–9) and a “handbook” of results at a given total energy is available.(10) In this chapter we focus attention on the theory from the experimentalist’s point of view, although the “experimental” data to be treated may well include computational results, e.g., from classical trajectory calculations. We intend to describe the current usage and, where appropriate, to make specific recommendations. This chapter is thus a handbook and does not always provide detailed derivations, nor does it provide a literature survey (which can be found, e.g., in Reference 9). We apologize to those of our colleagues whose work is not explicity cited.


Prior Distribution Rate Coefficient Detailed Balance Translational Energy Molecular Collision 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. D. Levine
    • 1
    • 2
  • J. L. Kinsey
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Physical ChemistryThe Hebrew UniversityJerusalemIsrael

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