# Liouville's theorem (Hamiltonian)

## Key result in Hamiltonian mechanics and statistical mechanics / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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In physics, **Liouville's theorem**, named after the French mathematician Joseph Liouville, is a key theorem in classical statistical and Hamiltonian mechanics. It asserts that *the phase-space distribution function is constant along the trajectories of the system*—that is that the density of system points in the vicinity of a given system point traveling through phase-space is constant with time. This time-independent density is in statistical mechanics known as the classical a priori probability.^{[1]}

Liouville's theorem applies to conservative systems, that is, systems in which the effects of friction are absent or can be ignored. The general mathematical formulation for such systems is the measure-preserving dynamical system. Liouville's theorem applies when there are degrees of freedom that can be interpreted as positions and momenta; not all measure-preserving dynamical systems have these, but Hamiltonian systems do. The general setting for conjugate position and momentum coordinates is available in the mathematical setting of symplectic geometry. Liouville's theorem ignores the possibility of chemical reactions, where the total number of particles may change over time, or where energy may be transferred to internal degrees of freedom. There are extensions of Liouville's theorem to cover these various generalized settings, including stochastic systems.^{[2]}