In the thermodynamics of equilibrium, a state function, function of state, or point function for a thermodynamic system is a mathematical function relating several state variables or state quantities (that describe equilibrium states of a system) that depend only on the current equilibrium thermodynamic state of the system (e.g. gas, liquid, solid, crystal, or

emulsion
An emulsion is a mixture of two or more liquids that are normally immiscible (unmixable or unblendable) owing to liquid-liquid phase separation. Emulsions are part of a more general class of two-phase systems of matter called colloids. Although ...

), not the path
A path is a route for physical travel – see Trail.
Path or PATH may also refer to:
Physical paths of different types
* Bicycle path
* Bridle path, used by people on horseback
* Course (navigation), the intended path of a vehicle
* Desire ...

which the system has taken to reach that state. A state function describes equilibrium states of a system, thus also describing the type of system. A state variable is typically a state function so the determination of other state variable values at an equilibrium state also determines the value of the state variable as the state function at that state. The ideal gas law
The ideal gas law, also called the general gas equation, is the equation of state of a hypothetical ideal gas. It is a good approximation of the behavior of many gases under many conditions, although it has several limitations. It was first st ...

is a good example. In this law, one state variable (e.g., pressure, volume, temperature, or the amount of substance in a gaseous equilibrium system) is a function of other state variables so is regarded as a state function. A state function could also describe the number of a certain type of atoms or molecules in a gaseous, liquid, or solid form in a heterogeneous
Homogeneity and heterogeneity are concepts often used in the sciences and statistics relating to the uniformity of a substance or organism. A material or image that is homogeneous is uniform in composition or character (i.e. color, shape, size ...

or homogeneous mixture, or the amount of energy required to create such a system or change the system into a different equilibrium state.
Internal energy, enthalpy
Enthalpy , a property of a thermodynamic system, is the sum of the system's internal energy and the product of its pressure and volume. It is a state function used in many measurements in chemical, biological, and physical systems at a constant p ...

, and entropy
Entropy is a scientific concept, as well as a measurable physical property, that is most commonly associated with a state of disorder, randomness, or uncertainty. The term and the concept are used in diverse fields, from classical thermodyna ...

are examples of state quantities or state functions because they quantitatively describe an equilibrium state of a thermodynamic system, regardless of how the system has arrived in that state. In contrast, mechanical work
In physics, work is the energy transferred to or from an object via the application of force along a displacement. In its simplest form, for a constant force aligned with the direction of motion, the work equals the product of the force stren ...

and heat
In thermodynamics, heat is defined as the form of energy crossing the boundary of a thermodynamic system by virtue of a temperature difference across the boundary. A thermodynamic system does not ''contain'' heat. Nevertheless, the term is a ...

are process quantities or path functions because their values depend on a specific "transition" (or "path") between two equilibrium states that a system has taken to reach the final equilibrium state. Heat (in certain discrete amounts) can describe a state function such as enthalpy, but in general, does not truly describe the system unless it is defined as the state function of a certain system, and thus enthalpy is described by an amount of heat. This can also apply to entropy when heat is compared to temperature. The description breaks down for quantities exhibiting hysteresis.
History

It is likely that the term "functions of state" was used in a loose sense during the 1850s and 1860s by those such asRudolf Clausius
Rudolf Julius Emanuel Clausius (; 2 January 1822 – 24 August 1888) was a German physicist and mathematician and is considered one of the central founding fathers of the science of thermodynamics. By his restatement of Sadi Carnot's principle ...

, William Rankine
William John Macquorn Rankine (; 5 July 1820 – 24 December 1872) was a Scottish mechanical engineer who also contributed to civil engineering, physics and mathematics. He was a founding contributor, with Rudolf Clausius and William Thomson ...

, Peter Tait, and William Thomson. By the 1870s, the term had acquired a use of its own. In his 1873 paper "Graphical Methods in the Thermodynamics of Fluids", Willard Gibbs states: "The quantities ''v'', ''p'', ''t'', ''ε'', and ''η'' are determined when the state of the body is given, and it may be permitted to call them ''functions of the state of the body''."
Overview

A thermodynamic system is described by a number of thermodynamic parameters (e.g. temperature, volume, or pressure) which are not necessarily independent. The number of parameters needed to describe the system is the dimension of the state space of the system (). For example, a monatomic gas with a fixed number of particles is a simple case of a two-dimensional system (). Any two-dimensional system is uniquely specified by two parameters. Choosing a different pair of parameters, such as pressure and volume instead of pressure and temperature, creates a different coordinate system in two-dimensional thermodynamic state space but is otherwise equivalent. Pressure and temperature can be used to find volume, pressure and volume can be used to find temperature, and temperature and volume can be used to find pressure. An analogous statement holds for higher-dimensional spaces, as described by the state postulate. Generally, a state space is defined by an equation of the form $F(P,\; V,\; T,\; \backslash ldots)\; =\; 0$, where denotes pressure, denotes temperature, denotes volume, and the ellipsis denotes other possible state variables like particle number and entropy . If the state space is two-dimensional as in the above example, it can be visualized as a three-dimensional graph (a surface in three-dimensional space). However, the labels of the axes are not unique (since there are more than three state variables in this case), and only two independent variables are necessary to define the state. When a system changes state continuously, it traces out a "path" in the state space. The path can be specified by noting the values of the state parameters as the system traces out the path, whether as a function of time or a function of some other external variable. For example, having the pressure and volume as functions of time from time to will specify a path in two-dimensional state space. Any function of time can then be integrated over the path. For example, to calculate the work done by the system from time to time , calculate $W(t\_0,t\_1)\; =\; \backslash int\_0^1\; P\; \backslash ,\; dV\; =\; \backslash int\_^\; P(t)\; \backslash frac\; \backslash ,\; dt$. In order to calculate the work in the above integral, the functions and must be known at each time over the entire path. In contrast, a state function only depends upon the system parameters' values at the endpoints of the path. For example, the following equation can be used to calculate the work plus the integral of over the path: :$\backslash begin\; \backslash Phi(t\_0,t\_1)\; \&=\; \backslash int\_^P\backslash frac\backslash ,dt\; +\; \backslash int\_^V\backslash frac\backslash ,dt\; \backslash \backslash \; \&=\; \backslash int\_^\backslash frac\backslash ,dt\; =\; P(t\_1)V(t\_1)-P(t\_0)V(t\_0).\; \backslash end$ In the equation, theintegrand
In mathematics, an integral assigns numbers to functions in a way that describes displacement, area, volume, and other concepts that arise by combining infinitesimal data. The process of finding integrals is called integration. Along with ...

can be expressed as the exact differential
In multivariate calculus, a differential or differential form is said to be exact or perfect (''exact differential''), as contrasted with an inexact differential, if it is equal to the general differential dQ for some differentiable function&nbs ...

of the function . Therefore, the integral can be expressed as the difference in the value of at the end points of the integration. The product is therefore a state function of the system.
The notation will be used for an exact differential. In other words, the integral of will be equal to . The symbol will be reserved for an inexact differential, which cannot be integrated without full knowledge of the path. For example, will be used to denote an infinitesimal increment of work.
State functions represent quantities or properties of a thermodynamic system, while non-state functions represent a process during which the state functions change. For example, the state function is proportional to the internal energy of an ideal gas, but the work is the amount of energy transferred as the system performs work. Internal energy is identifiable; it is a particular form of energy. Work is the amount of energy that has changed its form or location.
List of state functions

The following are considered to be state functions in thermodynamics: *Mass
Mass is an intrinsic property of a body. It was traditionally believed to be related to the quantity of matter in a physical body, until the discovery of the atom and particle physics. It was found that different atoms and different elementa ...

* Energy
In physics, energy (from Ancient Greek: ἐνέργεια, ''enérgeia'', “activity”) is the quantitative property that is transferred to a body or to a physical system, recognizable in the performance of work and in the form of heat ...

()
** Enthalpy
Enthalpy , a property of a thermodynamic system, is the sum of the system's internal energy and the product of its pressure and volume. It is a state function used in many measurements in chemical, biological, and physical systems at a constant p ...

()
** Internal energy ()
** Gibbs free energy
In thermodynamics, the Gibbs free energy (or Gibbs energy; symbol G) is a thermodynamic potential that can be used to calculate the maximum amount of work that may be performed by a thermodynamically closed system at constant temperature and pr ...

()
** Helmholtz free energy
In thermodynamics, the Helmholtz free energy (or Helmholtz energy) is a thermodynamic potential that measures the useful work obtainable from a closed thermodynamic system at a constant temperature (isothermal). The change in the Helmholtz ener ...

()
** Exergy
In thermodynamics, the exergy of a system is the maximum useful work possible during a process that brings the system into equilibrium with a heat reservoir, reaching maximum entropy. When the surroundings are the reservoir, exergy is the pot ...

()
* Entropy
Entropy is a scientific concept, as well as a measurable physical property, that is most commonly associated with a state of disorder, randomness, or uncertainty. The term and the concept are used in diverse fields, from classical thermodyna ...

()
* Pressure ()
* Temperature ()
* Volume ()
* Chemical composition
A chemical composition specifies the identity, arrangement, and ratio of the elements making up a compound.
Chemical formulas can be used to describe the relative amounts of elements present in a compound. For example, the chemical formula for ...

* Pressure altitude
* Specific volume
In thermodynamics, the specific volume of a substance (symbol: , nu) is an intrinsic property of the substance, defined as the ratio of the substance's volume () to its mass (). It is the reciprocal of density (rho) and it is related to the mo ...

() or its reciprocal density
Density (volumetric mass density or specific mass) is the substance's mass per unit of volume. The symbol most often used for density is ''ρ'' (the lower case Greek letter rho), although the Latin letter ''D'' can also be used. Mathematically ...

()
* Particle number
The particle number (or number of particles) of a thermodynamic system, conventionally indicated with the letter ''N'', is the number of constituent particles in that system. The particle number is a fundamental parameter in thermodynamics which is ...

()
See also

*Markov property
In probability theory and statistics, the term Markov property refers to the memoryless property of a stochastic process. It is named after the Russian mathematician Andrey Markov. The term strong Markov property is similar to the Markov pro ...

* Conservative vector field
* Nonholonomic system
* Equation of state
* State variable
Notes

References

* * *External links

* {{DEFAULTSORT:State Function Thermodynamic properties Continuum mechanics