configuration space

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The n-dimensional space with coordinates (q1,q2,…,qn) associated with a system that has n degrees of freedom, where the values q describe the degrees of freedom. For example, in a gas of N atoms each atom has three positional coordinates, so the configuration space is 3N-dimensional. If the particles also have internal degrees of freedom, such as those caused by vibration and rotation in a molecule, then these must be included in the configuration space, which is consequently of a higher dimension. See also statistical mechanics.

Subjects: Chemistry — Physics.

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