Since the early 1960s it has gradually become accepted that a modern academic training in optics should include a heavy exposure to the concepts of Fourier analysis and linear systems theory. This book is based on the thesis that a similar stage has been reached with respect to the tools of probability and statistics and that some training in the area of statistical optics should be included as a standard part of any advanced optics curriculum. In writing this book I have attempted to fill the need for a suitable textbook in this area.
The subjects covered in this book are very physical but tend to be obscured by mathematics. An author of a book on this subject is thus faced with the dilemma of how best to utilize the powerful mathematical tools available without losing sight of the underlying physics. Some compromises in mathematical rigor must be made, and to the largest extent possible, a repetitive emphasis of the physical meaning of mathematical quantities is needed. Since fringe formation is the most fundamental underlying physical phenomenon involved in most of these subjects, I have tried to stay as close as possible to fringes in dealing with the meaning of the mathematics. I would hope that the treatment used here would be particularly appealing to both optical and electrical engineers, and also useful for physicists. The treatment is suitable for both self-study and for formal presentation in the classroom. Many homework problems are included.