• Corpus ID: 104291954

Coconuts and Islanders: A Statistics-First Guide to the Boltzmann Distribution

  title={Coconuts and Islanders: A Statistics-First Guide to the Boltzmann Distribution},
  author={Brian Hu Zhang},
  journal={arXiv: Statistical Mechanics},
  • B. Zhang
  • Published 7 April 2019
  • Physics
  • arXiv: Statistical Mechanics
The Boltzmann distribution is one of the key equations of thermal physics and is widely used in machine learning as well. Here I derive a Boltzmann distribution in a simple pedagogical example using only tools from a first-year probability course. The example is called "coconuts and islanders" and was taught to me by my father, Shoucheng Zhang (1963 - 2018), to whom these notes are dedicated. By focusing on this simple story, which can be easily simulated on a computer, I aim to provide a more… 
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