Mathematics in Photonics
Reference EHPHOT00000004
Taught in First Master of Photonics Engineering
First Master of Photonics Engineering
Bridging Course First Master of Photonics Engineering
General Course List UGent/VUB First Erasmus Mundus Master of Science in Photonics
Theory (A) 15.0
Exercises (B) 15.0
Training and projects (C) 0.0
Studytime (D) 120.0
Studypoints (E) 4
Credit contract? Access is determined after successful competences assessment
Examination contract? This course can not be taken through this kind of contract
Credit contract mandatory if Exam contract? Separate credit contract mandatory
Retake possible? Yes
Teaching Language English
Lecturer Peter Bienstman
Department TW05
Key Words

applied mathematics, photonics

Position of the Course

Exposing the student to various mathematical concepts often used in photonics. The aim is to make the student acquainted with the basic principles and references, in order to allow him to independently further research these concepts.


  • 1: Complex analysis: wave problems as problems from complex analysis, complex functions, analytic functions, derivatives, line integrals, poles, zeros, branch cuts, residue calculus, limit theorems, Cauchy principal value, Kramers-Kronig dispersion relation, conformal transformations, bend losses in optical waveguides
  • 2: Special functions: modes of an optical fibre, Bessel and Neuman functions, generating functions, recursion relations, integrals, orthogonality, series expansion, higher order solutions of the paraxial wave euqation, Hermite polynomials, generating function, recurrence relation, differential equation, orthogonality, series expansion
  • 3: Numerical techniques: finite elements, finite differences, variational methods, eigenmode expansion, method of weighted residuals
  • 4: Periodicity and symmetry in photonic systems: using symmetries to classify modes, Bloch theorem, band diagrams, photonic crystals
  • 5: Dynamical systems: origins of non-linearity in optical systems, stability, fixed points, the logistic map, sadlle points, bifurcations, chaos, period doubling, Lyaponuc exponent, stable and unstable manifold, phase portrait

Starting Competences

mathematics from the bachelor program

Final Competences

being able to apply complex analysis to photonic problems; being able to apply special functions and orthogonal polynomials to photonic problems; getting a basic insight in the effects of symmetry on photonic systems; getting a basic insight into numerical techniques for photonics; being able to study the dynamics of a photonic system; being able to study a new mathematical topic in an independent and critical manner and apply it in a creative way.

Teaching and Learning Material

full lecture notes


Course Content-Related Study Coaching

Teaching Methods

Classroom lectures; Classroom problem solving sessions

Evaluation Methods

Evaluation during examination period

Examination Methods

During examination period: written open-book exam - problems; oral open-book exam, written preparation

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