Books on Optics

If your bookshelf has only one book on optics (unlike ours), it should be

  • Warren Smith, “Modern Optical Engineering” 4th ed.

Anyone who has mastered the contents of this book is an estimable optical engineer.  It is the only text our founder has used in teaching one of his courses in lens design.

For more in-depth reading on the theory of optics, we recommend the following books on optics:

  • Hecht, “Optics” – the best undergraduate text on optics; covers physical optics (interference, diffraction, polarization) that Smith glosses over.
  • Born & Wolf, “Principles of Optics” – covers the theory of optics in excruciating detail; only known book that references the van Cittert-Zernike theorem for partial coherence.
  • Welford, “Aberrations of Optical Systems” – everything you will ever need to know about aberration theory, other than pupil aberrations  (for that you’ll need to consult Roland Shack’s unpublished book)

Optical scattering is a field by itself.  The best three references we know of are

  • John Stover, “Optical Scattering” – a practical overview of surface roughness and optical scattering, including both theory and measurement
  • J. A. Ogilvy, “Theory of Wave Scattering from Random Rough Surfaces” – my favorite book on the theory behind scattering.  Unfortunately, it is out of print.
  • Giorgio Frsnceschetti & Daniele Riccio, “Scattering, Natural Surfaces and Fractals” – goes into great detail on scattering from various types of fractal surfaces.

Computer graphics has done a lot of work in applying optics theory to generating pretty but also accurate pictures.  To learn more about this field, we recommend

  • Matt Pharr & Greg Humphreys, “Physically Based Rendering”

Some of the optics books on our bookshelf

Our Bookshelf

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