Fast advancing silicon technology underpinned by Moore's law is creating a major transformation in optical fiber communications. The recent upsurge of interests in optical orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) as an efficient modulation and multiplexing scheme is merely a manifestation of this unmistakable trend. Since the formulation of the fundamental concept of OFDM by Chang in 1966 and many landmark works by others thereafter, OFDM has been triumphant in almost all the major RF communication standards. Nevertheless, its application to optical communications is rather nascent and its potential success in the optical domain remains an open question. This tutorial provides a review of optical OFDM slanted towards emerging optical fiber networks. The objective of the tutorial is two-fold: (i) to review OFDM fundamentals from its basic mathematical formation to its salient disadvantages and advantages, and (ii) to reveal the unique characteristics of the fiber optical channel and identify the challenges and opportunities in the application of optical OFDM.
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