Concept

Canonical ensemble

Summary
In statistical mechanics, a canonical ensemble is the statistical ensemble that represents the possible states of a mechanical system in thermal equilibrium with a heat bath at a fixed temperature. The system can exchange energy with the heat bath, so that the states of the system will differ in total energy. The principal thermodynamic variable of the canonical ensemble, determining the probability distribution of states, is the absolute temperature (symbol: T). The ensemble typically also depends on mechanical variables such as the number of particles in the system (symbol: N) and the system's volume (symbol: V), each of which influence the nature of the system's internal states. An ensemble with these three parameters is sometimes called the NVT ensemble. The canonical ensemble assigns a probability P to each distinct microstate given by the following exponential: :P = e^{(F - E)/(k T)}, where E is the total energy of the microstate, and k is the Boltzmann consta
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