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Optics (4th Edition) 4th Edition

54 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0805385663
ISBN-10: 0805385665
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Accurate, authoritative and comprehensive,Optics, Fourth Editionhas been revised to provide readers with the most up-to-date coverage of optics. The market leader for over a decade, this book provides a balance of theory and instrumentation, while also including the necessary classical background. The writing style is lively and accessible.For college instructors, students, or anyone interested in optics.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 680 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley; 4 edition (August 12, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805385665
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805385663
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 1.5 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Joey Pittman on May 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I used this textbook for an introductory optics course. It was an average book. There weren't any examples in the core of the text, but fortunately the author did include worked solutions in the appendix for some of the end-of-chapter problems, which I used as examples to work from. Most of the questions that were answered were the easier ones, that anybody halfway intelligent should be able to figure out.

On the plus side, there were lots of equations and lots of description to help learn the material. Some sections were better than others. The sections on mirrors and lenses, for example, were wonderful; I never understood that stuff in high school, and Hecht made it all clear. The tables he had for the different types of lenses/mirrors and their properties were great. An example of a poor section was that on diffraction; I had no clue what he was talking about.

The book is a bit expensive, but overall it is alright; certainly better than some of the other books I used during my degree!
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Format: Hardcover
If this book had to stand on its own I'd say it is a failure. The author is very good about explaining concepts. For example, he tries to make practical sense out of reflection, refraction, and the Fresnel equations via conversational examples in nature such as the "mirages" you see on highways in the hot summertime. Also, his derivations are quite detailed and complete. However, he works very few numerical examples. He just expects you to do so in the exercises with no demonstration by him on how to do it. As someone has previously mentioned, the subject of Fourier optics is spread all over the book in a completely disorganized manner.

So why am I giving it four stars? Because, unbelievably, it is the best optics textbook out there for those of us seeking an academic treatment and not some popular mechanics text. Also, the author has written an outstanding Schaum's outline, Schaum's Outline of Optics, that goes hand in hand with this book. They complement each other perfectly. Simply read a chapter of this book, go to the corresponding chapter in the Schaum's outline, and there the same author shows practical problems and their solutions.

If the author ever writes another edition of this text it would be great if he folded in some of the practicality of his Schaum's outline into this very complete but unpractical text.
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64 of 87 people found the following review helpful By GSN on December 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Hecht is the worst text I used as an undergrad fro the following reasons.

1) He is too verbose. His explanations of phenomena could easily be more brief and a lot more clear. Some people like to hear themselves speak; Hecht likes to hear himself write. If you want a clear description of what is going on then Pedrotti is a much better text.

2) You will often find entire sections devoted to the history of optics. This is not bad and I rather enjoyed them. However, they are interspersed between critical sections that one really ought to be drawing connections between. There is nothing wrong with a stand-alone history of optics chapter or even with putting the historical development in the beginning or at the end of the chapter.

2.5) His current style makes this text useless as a quick reference. If I want to read about a Fourier transform of a triangle function, I want to be able to flip to the index, see a page number, go to it, and get the relevant information. I do not trudge through why FT is such a useful tool, transforms of gaussian and cylindrical functions, convolution, the dirac delta function, Fraunhoffer difraction, and correlation to find the ten lines that tell you what the result is. There is a figure a few pages later that gives you the same information as well. Why it is not on the same page as the relevant text I will never know. The exercise took 20 mins and principally because you have to read through the text to make sure he didn't mention on one line it under some random heading (which he shows up under correlation...because its obvious to look under there apparently. There is no entry for triangle functions under the index, either by itself or under FT...
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Pen Name on September 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a fairly good textbook trapped in an inexcusably bad layout. I've worked my way through about half the textbook now and there are several sections which contain lots of helpful figures. However, there seems to have been almost no effort made to put the text on the same or facing page along with the figures, so you spend a lot of your time on these sections reading a paragraph, jumping ahead to find the figure, going back to read the next paragraph, again jumping ahead for that figure, and so on. It's bad enough when the figures are sparse, but when they are as dense as they are in some sections and as critical as they are to understanding the material, it's hard to stomach. As a result, I find that this book wastes a lot of my time. This is in the Third Edition, so you could hope things have changed, but I wouldn't bet a hundred bones on it.

Also, to reiterate what another reviewer said, there are subjects like Fourier Optics which are spread out throughout the book more than is necessary. This makes it a fairly poor reference, since you sometimes have to dig up separate chunks of material in a piecemeal fashion.

Still, for the level of the book, I am struggling to find something better. Born and Wolf is pretty good, but it's more of a graduate level text. Judging by the quality of the material available, textbook authorship must be harder than it seems.
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