We present a unified formal description and a detailed study of the depolarization spaces defined by various depolarization metrics based on the eigenvalues of the covariance matrix associated with a given Mueller matrix. By introducing natural generalizations of the common and Lorentz depolarization metrics, we likewise advance novel spaces appropriate for the description of extrinsic and intrinsic depolarization. We show the intimate relation existing between the depolarization spaces and the depolarization diagrams and solve the problem of the experimentally observed forbidden depolarization region. The theoretical developments are illustrated on numerical, analytical, and experimental examples of depolarizing Mueller matrices.
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