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The “Math Interlude” is a one-week introduction to the mathematics involved in thermodynamics, that we teach prior to Energy and Entropy. The approach of this interlude is to use the Partial Derivative Machine to provide a physical system to which we can apply mathematical techniques such as total differentials and partial derivatives, and with which students can begin to understand fundamental concepts such as state variables.

For instructions on building your own PDM, see the Partial Derivative Machine page.