2.71 | Spring 2014 | Undergraduate



Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session


8.02 Physics II

18.03 Differential Equations

2.004 Dynamics and Control II


2.71 / 2.710 Optics is an introduction to optical science with elementary engineering applications. Topics include geometrical optics: ray-tracing, aberrations, lens design, apertures and stops, radiometry, photometry, wave optics: basic electrodynamics, polarization, interference, wave-guiding, Fresnel and Fraunhofer diffraction, image formation, resolution, and space-bandwidth product. Analytical and numerical tools used in optical design are emphasized.

Objectives of the class are:

  • Studying fundamental properties of light propagation and interaction with matter.
    • Two approximations (geometrical optics and scalar wave optics)
    • Emphasis on physical intuition and underlying mathematical tools
    • Systems approach to analysis and design of optical systems
  • Application of physical concepts to topical engineering domains.

Differences between 2.71 and 2.710

Students must choose between the undergraduate version of the course, 2.71, and the graduate version of the course, 2.710. The graduate version requires a final project and additional problem set assignments, namely in homeworks 4, 5, and 6.



Homework 30%
Quizzes 40%
Final Exam 30%


Homework 20%
Quizzes 30%
Final Project 30%
Final Exam 20%

Homework Grading

Each problem is worth 3 points. You earn:

  • 3 points if you solve the problem perfectly,
  • 2 points if you got the main idea but made minor error(s)
  • 1 point if you went seriously astray
  • 0 points if you did not attempt the problem

We will accept late homeworks but you lose 20% of the grade per day after the due date. The 1st homework is exempt from this policy (but please make sure to turn it in by the due date of the 2nd homework).

Final Project (2.710 only)

Each project will be carried out by a team of 2–3 students from the 2.710 roster. A list of suggested project descriptions will be provided and you are free to take your own topics too. We will finalize the teaming arrangements by Lecture 7. Each team will consult with a mentor (faculty, TA or senior students in related topics) who will assist in clarifying key concepts, and organizing the presentations. The mentors will also suggest a few simple simulations for each project to give you a feel of what these advanced topics can accomplish, and what the difficulties / limitations are.

The projects will be presented in Lectures 23 and 24. Each presentation should be designed to last for 30 minutes with approximately 10 additional minutes for questions. If you all decide to go on stage, please be prepared to manage the 30 minute overall team time between 2 to 3 speakers, and switch swiftly between speakers to avoid delays. To further cut delays, we will also ask that you bring your presentations in a flash drive and use a laptop.

The presentations will be attended by the class, the instructor team, and guest faculty. Only faculty will give grades, but all present will vote for the best presentation.

* If you are enrolled in 2.71, you are welcome to participate in the projects on a voluntary basis. You cannot receive credit for this work, however, unless you switch to 2.710. You would also have to do some additional homework problems that were assigned in 2.710 but not 2.71.


Allowed in homeworks but you should write your own solutions and make sure you understand them before handing in. Projects are collaborative by definition.

  • Pedrotti, Frank L., Leno M. Pedrotti, and Leno S. Pedrotti. Introduction to Optics. Addison-Wesley, 2006. ISBN: 9780131499331.
  • Goodman, Joseph W. Introduction to Fourier Optics. McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1968. ISBN: 9780070237766.

Suggested References

  • Hecht, E. Optics. 4th ed. Addison-Wesley, 2001. ISBN: 9780805385663.
  • Smith, W. J. Modern Optical Engineering. 4th ed. SPIE Press, 2007. ISBN: 9780819470966.
  • Bass, Michael, E. W. Van Stryland, D. R. Williams, eds. Handbook of Optics. Vol 1, 2nd ed. McGraw-Hill Professional, 1995. ISBN: 9780070477407.
  • Haus, H. A. Waves and Fields in Optoelectronics. Prentice Hall, 1983. ISBN: 9780139460531.
  • Iizuka, Keigo. Elements of Photonics. Vol 1. Wiley-Interscience, 2002. ISBN: 9780471839385. [Preview with Google Books]
  • Voelz, David George. Computational Fourier Optics: A MATLAB Tutorial. SPIE Press, 2011. ISBN: 9780819482044.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2014
Learning Resource Types
Problem Sets with Solutions
Exams with Solutions
Lecture Notes