Abstract

The differential Stokes–Mueller matrix formalism expresses the local evolution of the Mueller matrix or the Stokes parameters for light propagating through a homogeneous optical medium. This paper presents a historical revision of the development of the differential Stokes–Mueller matrix formalism and highlights several important early contributions that have been overlooked. Particularly relevant is that this formalism was pioneered as early as 1929 by Paul Soleillet, almost 50 years earlier than it has been usually assumed. This historical revision demonstrates that several different authors independently formulated the differential Stokes–Mueller formalism during the 20th century and they found equivalent results studying the propagation problem from different approaches.

© 2017 Optical Society of America

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