We present a novel and simple theoretical model of computation that captures what we believe are the most important characteristics of an optical Fourier transform processor. We use this abstract model to reason about the computational properties of the physical systems it describes. We define a grammar for our model's instruction language, and use it to write algorithms for well-known filtering and correlation techniques. We also suggest suitable computational complexity measures that could be used to analyze any coherent optical information processing technique, described with the language, for efficiency. Our choice of instruction language allows us to argue that algorithms describable with this model should have optical implementations that do not require a digital electronic computer to act as a master unit. Through simulation of a well known model of computation from computer theory we investigate the general-purpose capabilities of analog optical processors.