An iterative zonal wave-front estimation algorithm for slope or gradient-type data in optical testing acquired with regular or irregular pupil shapes is presented. In the mathematical model proposed, the optical surface, or wave-front shape estimation, which may have any pupil shape or size, shares a predefined wave-front estimation matrix that we establish. Owing to the finite pupil of the instrument, the challenge of wave front shape estimation in optical testing lies in large part in how to properly handle boundary conditions. The solution we propose is an efficient iterative process based on Gerchberg-type iterations. The proposed method is validated with data collected from a -grid Shack–Hartmann sensor built at the Nanjing Astronomical Instruments Research Center in China. Results show that the rms deviation error of the estimated wave front from the original wave front is less than after iterations and less than (both for ) after as few as four iterations. Also, a theoretical analysis of algorithm complexity and error propagation is presented.
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