The twentieth century saw the birth of physical organic chemistry – the study of the interrelationships between structure and reactivity in organic molecules – and the discipline matured to a brilliant and vibrant field. Some would argue that the last century also saw the near death of the field. In our opinion, physical organic chemistry is alive and well in the early twenty-first century. New life has been breathed into the field because it has embraced newer chemical disciplines, such as bioorganic, organometallic, materials, and supramolecular chemistries. These newer disciplines have given physical organic chemists fertile ground in which to study the interrelationships of structure and reactivity. Yet, even while these new fields have been developing, remarkable advances in our understanding of basic organic chemical reactivity have continued to appear, exploiting classical physical organic tools and developing newer experimental and computational techniques. Importantly, the techniques of physical organic chemistry and the intellectual approach to problems embodied by the discipline remain as relevant as ever to organic chemistry. Therefore, a course in physical organic chemistry will be essential for students for the foreseeable future.
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