## Nonequilibrium statistical mechanics in the general theory of relativity. I. A general formalism

This is the first in a series of papers, the overall objective of which is the formulation of a new covariant approach to nonequilibrium statistical mechanics in classical general relativity. The objecct here is the development of a tractable theory for self-gravitating systems. It is argued that the ''state'' of an N-particle system may be characterized by an N-particle distribution function, defined in an 8N-dimensional phase space, which satisfies a collection of N conservation equations. By mapping the true physics onto a fictitious ''background'' spacetime, which may be chosen to satisfy some ''average'' field equations, one then obtains a usefulmore »