A master pedagogue with three decades of teaching experience wrote this highly recommended undergraduate textbook. The foundation is the general use of scalar, one-dimensional theory and Fourier theory to derive and explain coherent optical phenomena including interference; hence the word “simplified” in the title. Polarization requires a vector treatment, as does reflection and refraction.

The author presents the ABCD matrix approach for calculating ray traces through multiple optical components, which is useful for actual experimental setups. Advanced topics are placed in blue boxes. The discussion features the exact equation, and the introduction of stepwise mathematical constraints or approximations that make clear the physics of the complex phenomena such as Fraunhofer and Fresnel diffraction. Learning is enhanced by the worked-out numerical examples, problem sets, websites, references, index and color figures that illustrate the theory and demonstrate real optical phenomena.

This book meets the need of a disparate group of students with various majors, from physics to bioengineering to electrical engineering. The common goals are a strong understanding of the fundamentals of modern optics.

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.