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The functional generalization of the Boltzmann-Vlasov equation and its gauge-like symmetry

Giorgio Torrieri

SciPost Phys. 16, 070 (2024) · published 11 March 2024


We argue that one can model deviations from the ensemble average in non-equilibrium statistical mechanics by promoting the Boltzmann equation to an equation in terms of functionals , representing possible candidates for phase space distributions inferred from a finite observed number of degrees of freedom. We find that, provided the collision term and the Vlasov drift term are both included, a gauge-like redundancy arises which does not go away even if the functional is narrow. We argue that this effect is linked to the gauge-like symmetry found in relativistic hydrodynamics [Ann. Phys. 442, 168902 (2022)] and that it could be part of the explanation for the apparent fluid-like behavior in small systems in hadronic collisions and other strongly-coupled small systems [Annu. Rev. Nucl. Part. Sci. 68, 211 (2018)]. When causality and Lorentz invariance are omitted this problem can be look at via random matrix theory show, and we show that in such a case thermalization happens much more quickly than the Boltzmann equation would infer. We also sketch an algorithm to study this problem numerically.

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