Using rays better. I. theory for smoothly varying media

G. W. Forbes, M. A. Alonso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


We present a method for computing ray-based approximations to optical fields that not only offers unprecedented accuracy but is also accompanied by accessible error estimates. The basic elements of propagation through smooth media, refraction and reflection at interfaces, and diffraction by obstacles give the foundations for the new framework, and the first of these is treated here. The key in each case is that the wave field and any relevant derivatives are expressed consistently as a superposition of delocalized ray contributions. In this way, the mysteries surrounding the sometimes perplexing tenaciousness of ray-based estimates are clearly resolved. Further, an essential degree of freedom in this approach offers an attractive resolution of part of the apparent conflict of particle/wave duality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1132-1145
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the Optical Society of America A: Optics and Image Science, and Vision
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2001

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