The fluctuation-dissipation theorem
The linear response theory has given a general proof of the fluctuation-dissipation theorem which states that the linear response of a given system to an external perturbation is expressed in terms of fluctuation properties of the system in thermal equilibrium. This theorem may be represented by a stochastic equation describing the fluctuation, which is a generalization of the familiar Langevin equation in the classical theory of Brownian motion. In this generalized equation the friction force becomes retarded or frequency-dependent and the random force is no more white. They are related to each other by a generalized Nyquist theorem which is in fact another expression of the fluctuation-dissipation theorem. This point of view can be applied to a wide class of irreversible process including collective modes in many-particle systems as has already been shown by Mori. As an illustrative example, the density response problem is briefly discussed.