This paper discusses the development of a graduate level course that covers diffraction theory and Fourier optics.
MATLABTM is used as the basic numerical tool for these projects. In addition to providing functions for the calculation
of Fresnel diffraction, the FFT command enables the calculation of the diffraction pattern of an arbitrary aperture.
Relatively simple MATLABTM scripts are constructed to calculate the diffraction patterns of arbitrary graphics created in
other programs such as text, pictures of faces, fingerprints, etc. Furthermore, the resulting diffraction patterns can be
filtered and the same FFT commands be used to perform an inverse Fourier transform. This paper also describes a few
demonstrations that can be used to reinforce what is covered on the projects. The demonstrations are based on a simple
4F system. The first half of the 4F system is used to show how an illuminated image changes from a reduced version of
the image into a spatial frequency mapping. A Fourier plane mask is also created with small features on a chrome plated
photomask. Since the features are relatively small various different types aperture can be placed on the mask.