29 January 1999
There are only a very few known relations in statistical dynamics that are valid for systems driven arbitrarily far-from-equilibrium. One of these is the fluctuation theorem, which places conditions on the entropy production probability distribution of nonequilibrium systems. Another recently discovered far-from-equilibrium expression relates nonequilibrium measurements of the work done on a system to equilibrium free energy differences. In this paper, we derive a generalized version of the fluctuation theorem for stochastic, microscopically reversible dynamics. Invoking this generalized theorem provides a succinct proof of the nonequilibrium work relation.