In this paper, we survey our recent results on the variational formulation of nonequilibrium thermodynamics for the finite-dimensional case of discrete systems, as well as for the infinite-dimensional case of continuum systems. Starting with the fundamental variational principle of classical mechanics, namely, Hamilton's principle, we show, with the help of thermodynamic systems with gradually increasing complexity, how to systematically extend it to include irreversible processes. In the finite dimensional cases, we treat systems experiencing the irreversible processes of mechanical friction, heat, and mass transfer in both the adiabatically closed cases and open cases. On the continuum side, we illustrate our theory using the example of multicomponent Navier-Stokes-Fourier systems.
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