Optical flux has a source and, for the applications considered in this book, also a destination (sometimes called a receiver or absorber). Having a source and a destination, it must also have a channel, path, or medium. The approach in this book is to consider all three components interacting with the flux. The presence of more than one component implies that the flux can be seen to operate in a systemcontext, with elements of the system including at least a source, a medium, and a receiver. Accepting the notion of an electro-optical system, the system can be subjected to actions such as analysis, design, and testing.
The fundamental approach taken in this book is that an electro-optical system should be considered as a system with cause-and-effect implications. Although the components in the system may not interact in a physical or causal manner, the performance of the system can be expressed as a set of relationships. In these relationships the system’s performance leads to interdependencies between parameters of the various components. For example, the maximum range performance of a laser rangefinder depends on laser power, atmospheric transmittance, and sensor noise all of which require trade-off analysis to optimize the system. Hence, notwithstanding the autonomy of each component, from a system perspective, the design process induces a synthetic parameter interdependence between the various components in the system.
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