6.050J | Spring 2008 | Undergraduate

Information and Entropy

Unit 11: Energy





Seminal papers on the Principle of Maximum Entropy by Edwin T. Jaynes (July 5, 1922 – April 30, 1998):


  • Joseph-Louis Lagrange biography
  • Cercignani, Carlo. Ludwig Boltzmann, The Man Who Trusted Atoms. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2006. ISBN: 9780198570646.
    Biography of Ludwig Boltzmann, Austrian physicist, 1844–1906, who was a pioneer in thermodynamics and entropy.
  • Ludwig Boltzmann biography
  • Another Ludwig Boltzmann biography
  • Truesdell, C. The Tragicomical History of Thermodynamics, 1822–1854. Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag, 1980. ISBN: 9780387904030.
    History of the twisted and convoluted development of the difficult concept of entropy. Professor Truesdell died January 14, 2000 at the age of 80. He retired from the faculty at Johns Hopkins University in 1989.
  • Edwin T. Jaynes biography, photograph, and bibliography.


There are many textbooks on thermodynamics and energy conversion.

  • Silbey, R., R. Alberty, and M. Bawendi. Physical Chemistry. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 2004. ISBN: 9780471215042.
    These authors are from MIT. Alberty was formerly Dean of Science, and Silbey was until recently Dean of Science. It’s amazing that anyone can be a Dean and still keep up with science.
  • Typical excellent book in a traditional style, Zemansky, Mark W. Heat and Thermodynamics. 3rd ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1951, or earlier editions starting in 1937.
    This book does not mention information and starts with assumed knowledge about temperature, pressure, and volume. Suitable for advanced undergraduates.
  • Introductory book, used for sophomores, covering classical thermodynamics (no information), Van Ness, H. C. Understanding Thermodynamics. New York, NY: Dover Publications, 1969.
    Succinct and carefully crafted treatment.
  • Book covering both equilibrium and irreversible thermodynamics, Callen, Herbert B. Thermodynamics. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 1962.
  • Careful treatment of classical thermodynamics (no mention of information) with emphasis on the mathematical formalism, Truesdell, C. Rational Thermodynamics. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1969.
    Suitable for graduate courses, for those with some prior exposure to thermodynamics.
  • Textbook developed at MIT in energy conversion (no thermodynamics), White, David C., and Herbert H. Woodson. Electromechanical Energy Conversion. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 1959.
  • An early textbook to use the Principle of Maximum Entropy as an approach to thermodynamics is Tribus, M. Thermostatics and Thermodynamics. Princeton, NJ: D. Van Nostrand Co, Inc., 1961.
Learning Resource Types
Problem Sets with Solutions
Online Textbook
Programming Assignments