Abstract

A simple formalism is found for the measurement of wave fields that satisfy the Helmholtz equation in free space. This formalism turns out to be analogous to the well-known theory of measurements for quantum-mechanical wave functions: A measurement corresponds to the squared magnitude of the inner product (in a suitable Hilbert space) of the wave field and a field that is associated with the detector. The measurement can also be expressed as an overlap in phase space of a special form of the Wigner function that is tailored for Helmholtz wave fields.

© 2000 Optical Society of America

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