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canonical ensemble

in physics, a functional relationship for a system of particles that is useful for calculating the overall statistical and thermodynamic behaviour of the system without explicit reference to the detailed behaviour of particles. The canonical ensemble was introduced by J. Willard Gibbs, a U.S. physicist, to avoid the problems arising from incompleteness of the available observational data concerning the detailed behaviour of a system of interacting particles-for example, molecules in a gas

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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