Fowler table
An example 1939 symbol table, compiled by Ralph Fowler and Edward Guggenheim, for the main six thermodynamic functions found commonly in modern textbooks of the day; the latter of which μ (mu) being the chemical potential. [2]
In thermodynamics, characteristic function notation table lists the various notation symbol schemes used in signifying the main characteristic functions of thermodynamics: the energy (U) of a body, the entropy (S) of the body, the enthalpy (H) or heat content of a body, the free energy (available energy of useful energy) of a body for isochoric-isobaric processes or Helmholtz free energy (F), and the free energy (available energy or useful energy) of a body for isobaric-isothermal processes or Gibbs free energy (G).

Symbol usage conflicts
The term "characteristic functions" is a term introduced in 1869 by French engineer Francois Massieu and for these functions, Massieu employed a Greek symbol notation scheme to represent the various thermodynamic functions characteristic of bodies. In 1873, this Greek symbol notation scheme was adopted by American engineer Willard Gibbs.

Prior to this, however, in 1865, the first two main thermodynamic functions, energy and entropy, were introduced using the English letter symbols U and S, respectively, by German physicist Rudolf Clausius. This was the start of a symbol use inconsistency that would last for at least a century, well into the early 21st century, with authors still inconsistent on their usage of the symbols A, short for arbeit (German for "work"), or F, short for frieie energie (German for "free energy"), to represent the Helmholtz free energy (U – TS).

Out of this conflict, into the 1930s, the symbol usage issue had become so chaotic and varied, that new thermodynamics textbooks were forced to compile notation tables and put this at the beginning of each book. The first of these notation tables seems to have been one compiled by Edward Guggenheim (1933), followed by a second made by Theophile de Donder (1936), and a third made by Ralph Fowler (1939).

In 1958, American geologist Hugh McKinstry, supposedly, wrote an extensive article on subject of the varieties of symbol use of the characteristic functions in thermodynamics; the article, supposedly, does not deal with thermodynamics directly, but is a commentary on the use of symbols. [4]

Function symbols table
An updated synthesis of these various notation tables (Guggenheim, de Donder, and Fowler) are regrouped together below, listed in chronological order:




Energy
U
Entropy
S
Enthalpy
U + PV
Helmholtz free energy
U – TS
Gibbs free energy
U + PV – TS

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Heat content

Constant: V, P
Free energy

(Work function)

Constant: T, P
Free energy

(Available energy)
(Useful energy)


Rudolf Clausius1865Mechanical Theory of HeatUS



Francois Massieu1869“On the Various Functions Characteristic of Fluids”U
U’
(U prime)
– tψ
(name)
– tψ
(name)

James Maxwell1871Theory of Heate
φ
(phi)




Willard Gibbs1876On the Equilibrium of Heterogeneous Substancesε
(epsilon)
η
(eta)
χ
(chi)
ψ
(psi)
ζ
(zeta)

Hermann Helmholtz1882"On the Thermodynamics of Chemical Processes"US

Free energy symbol (Helmholtz), F
German: ‘frieie energie’


Walther Nernst1893Theoretical Chemistry from the Standpoint of Avogadro’s Rule and ThermodynamicsU




Pierre Duhem1897Thermodynamique et ChimieU

F
Φ
(Phi)

Max Planck1897Treatise on ThermodynamicsUΦ
(Phi)
HF
– Tψ
(name)

Fritz Haber1905Technical Thermodynamics of Gas Phase ReactionsUS

A
German: ‘arbeit’ (work)


Otto Sackur1912Thermochemistry and ThermodynamicsU

Hψ
(psi)
ζ
(zeta)

Percy Bridgman1914 "A Complete Collection of Thermodynamic Formulas" E
S
H
ψ
(psi)
Z

Gilbert Lewis
1923ThermodynamicsE
SH
A
F

James Partington1924Chemical ThermodynamicsU
SH
F
Z

Theophile de Donder1926L'AffiniteU
Sψ
(psi)
F
H

John Butler1928The Fundamentals of Chemical ThermodynamicsE
S
H

F
Walter Schottky1929ThermodynamikU
S
H
F
G

Ralph Fowler1929Statistical MechanicsESH Tψ TΦ
Hermann Ulich1930Chemische ThermodynamikU

W
F
G

Georges Lerberghe1931Calcul des Affinites Physico-ChimiquesU

I
F
H

Edward Guggenheim1933Modern ThermodynamicsE
SH
F
G

Theophile de Donder1936Thermodynamic Theory of AffinityESHFF
Mark Zemansky1937Heat and ThermodynamicsU
S
H
F
G

Paul Epstein1937Textbook of ThermodynamicsUSχ
(chi)
ψ
(psi)
Φ
(Phi)

Johannes Bronsted1938Physical ChemistryE
S
H
F
G

Joseph Keenan1941ThermodynamicsE
S
H
ψ
(psi)
Z
Frederick Rossini1950Chemical ThermodynamicsE
SH

F, u

Juliana Goates
and Bevan Ott
2000Chemical ThermodynamicsUSH
A

G

IUPAC [3]2007Chemical Thermodynamics Symbol TableU
S
H
A, F
G


An important function not listed in this table, owing to its consistency is ‘bound energy’, symbol ‘B’, equal to the function ‘TS’, which is defined, according to Herman Helmholtz (1882), the coiner of this term, as “expressing the mechanical equivalent of that quantity of heat which must be conveyed into a body at temperature T in order to raise its entropy to the value S.” Hence, total energy (or total energy plus pressure-volume work energy) less bound energy is what is called ‘free energy’ (Helmholtz or Gibbs, respectively):

References
1. (a) Guggenheim, Eduard, A. (1933). Modern Thermodynamics by the Methods of Willard Gibbs (pg. 28). London: Methuen & Co.
(b) De Donder, Theophile. (1936). Thermodynamic Theory of Affinity: A Book of Principles (pg. xvi). Stanford University Press.
2. Fowler, Ralph and Guggenheim, Eduard A. (1939). Statistical Thermodynamics: a Version of Statistical Mechanics for Students of Physics and Chemistry (pg. x). Cambridge University Press.
3. Cohen, E. Richard, Cvitas, Tomislav. (2007). Quantities, Units and Symbols in Physical Chemistry, 3rd ed. (Chemical Thermodynamics Symbol Table, pg. 56). Royal Society of Chemistry.
4. (a) Vanserg, Nicolas. (1958). “Mathmanship”, The American Scientist, 46: 94A-98A; in: Essays on Thinking and Writing in Science, Engineering, and Business, (pgs. 110-), W.C. Brown, 1963.
(b) Nicolas Vanserg (pen name), supposedly, is Hugh McKinstry, a professor of geology at Harvard for many years.
(c) McSween, Harry Y, Richardson, Steven M., Uhle, Maria. (2003). Geochemistry: Pathways and Processes (pg. 45). Columbia University Press.

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