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Departmental Colloquium

On the History of the Recurrence Relations Method and its Application to the Ergodic Hypothesis  
Guest Speaker
M. Howard Lee  
Thursday, April 1, 2010 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm  
Physics 202  

Dr. Bill Dennis will host Dr. M. Howard Lee of the University of Georgia Department of Physics and Astronomy this week. His presentation is entitled "On the History of the Recurrence Relations Method and its Application to the Ergodic Hypothesis."

The recurrence relations method was developed at UGA in the early 1980s. It is an exact analytical formalism designed to study time-dependent or dynamical behavior in many-body systems from first principles. In the ensuing decades the method has been applied to a variety of classical and quantum models of solids, magnets, fluids and plasmas by my students and co-workers at UGA and independently by others elsewhere. Books have been written about it. At this talk the physical idea of this method will be presented.

In the early 2000s this method was first applied to a famous classic problem in statistical mechanics known as the ergodic hypothesis put forth by the great Boltzmann more than a hundred years ago. The hypothesis asserts that time averages are equal to ensemble averages. It has become a foundation of statistical mechanics. But is it really true? If true, why? Most physicists in this field accept or have accepted this hypothesis without knowing answers to such questions. The reason may perhaps be that, until now, there haven't been any tools with which to investigate this weighty problem. How this hypothesis has been unraveled by the recurrence relations method will be presented.