Within the abstract framework of dynamical system theory we describe a general approach to the transient (or Evans–Searles) and steady state (or Gallavotti–Cohen) fluctuation theorems of non-equilibrium statistical mechanics. Our main objective is to display the minimal, model independent mathematical structure at work behind fluctuation theorems. In addition to its conceptual simplicity, another advantage of our approach is its natural extension to quantum statistical mechanics which will be presented in a companion paper. We shall discuss several examples including thermostated systems, open Hamiltonian systems, chaotic homeomorphisms of compact metric spaces and Anosov diffeomorphisms.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/luc_rey_bellet/8/