A new approach to reconstructing the object wave front in phase-shifting interferometry with arbitrary unknown phase steps is proposed. With this method the actual phase steps are first determined from measured intensities with an algorithm based on the statistic property of the object phase distribution in the recording plane. Then the original object field is calculated digitally with a derived formula. This method is simple, accurate, and capable of retrieving the original object field, including its amplitude and phase distributions simultaneously, with arbitrary and unequal phase steps in a three- or four-frame method. The effectiveness and correctness of this approach are verified by a series of computer simulations for both smooth and diffusing surfaces.
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