Abstract

The statistical ensemble formalism of Kim et al. [J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 4, 433 (1987)] offers a realistic model for characterizing the effect of stochastic nonimage-forming optical media on the state of polarization of transmitted light. With suitable choice of the Jones ensemble, various Mueller transformations—some of which are hitherto unknown—are deduced. It is observed that the ensemble approach is formally identical to the positive-operator-valued measures (POVMs) on the quantum density matrix. This observation, in combination with the recent suggestion by Ahnert and Payne [Phys. Rev. A 71, 012330–1 (2005)] —in the context of generalized quantum measurement on single photon polarization states—that linear optics elements can be employed in setting up all possible POVMs enables us to propose a way of realizing different types of Mueller devices.

© 2008 Optical Society of America

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