Why is each edition of Hecht’s Optics a classic for undergraduate and graduate students? Perusal of the recommended 5th edition points to the reasons: pedagogy that stresses physical and mathematical understanding of the fundamentals, via rigorous derivations and then approximations and their limitations; integration of clearly designed graphics and illustrative figures of optical phenomena; many intriguing and instructive worked-out examples and problems; mathematical and graphical descriptions of interference and Fourier analysis; and the inclusion of modern topics such as coherence theory, image formation, holography and nonlinear optics.

Once the fundamentals of geometrical optics are developed, the emphasis shifts to comprehensive didactic material on polarization, interference, diffraction and Fourier optics. There are footnotes that provide references and a detailed bibliography and index.

If one studies this material and the many worked-out the examples, and solves the end-of-chapter problems sets, then the result is predictable: a fascination with optical phenomena as well as a sound understanding of the theory, mathematical description, and instrumentation that comprises modern optics and prepares one for advanced study.

Review by Barry R. Masters, Fellow of AAAS, OSA and SPIE.

The opinions expressed in the book review section are those of the reviewer and do not necessarily reflect those of OPN or OSA.