We investigate the azimuth response function, θ<sub><i>o</i></sub> = f(θ<sub><i>i</i></sub>), of a linear nondepolarizing optical system S, whereθ<sub><i>i</i></sub> and θ<sub><i>o</i></sub>, are the azimuths (orientations) of the generally elliptic vibrations of totally polarized light at the input and output of S. We find that the azimuth response function depends on five of the six parameters that specify the normalized circular Jones matrix of the optical system. Thus the entire polarization response of an optical system can be nearly completely reconstructed from its azimuth response alone. Five input-output azimuth measurements (θ<sub><i>ik</i></sub>, θ<sub><i>ok</i></sub>), <i>k</i> = 1, 2, ..., 5 are sufficient to fix the ARF. The procedure for such determination is considerably facilitated if the average of θ<sub><i>o</i></sub>, when θ<sub><i>i</i></sub> sweeps a full rang of π, is measured. The general design and automation of an instrument for performing azimuth measurements are discussed and the use of such measurements to determine the optical parameters of elliptic retarders is given as an application.
© 1978 Optical Society of AmericaPDF Article