Observations on the formulation of paraxial and Gaussian optics

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


In several of the standard derivations of first-order optics, the actual approximations used are unclear or overstated. Some derivations are also incomplete. Several of the fundamental derivations of paraxial and Gaussian optics have been reformulated to provide a clearer explanation and better understanding of the key concepts of basic image formation for our students. The paraxial refraction raytrace equation, the power of a general Gaussian system and the relationship between the numerical aperture and the F-number are examined. The paraxial refraction equation is shown to be a bridge between paraxial optics and Gaussian optics that defines the power of an optical system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInternational Optical Design Conference 2014
EditorsMariana Figueiro, Julius Muschaweck, Scott Lerner, John Rogers
ISBN (Electronic)9781628413786
StatePublished - 2014
EventInternational Optical Design Conference 2014, IODC 2014 - Kohala Coast, United States
Duration: Jun 23 2014Jun 26 2014

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


OtherInternational Optical Design Conference 2014, IODC 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityKohala Coast


  • F-number
  • First-order optics
  • Gaussian optics
  • Optical power
  • Paraxial optics
  • Refraction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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