Optics and Photonics Journal, 2013, 3, 86-89
doi:10.4236/opj.2013.32B022 Published Online June 2013 (http://www.scirp.org/journal/opj)
Comparison of Iterative Wavefront Estimation Methods*
Y. Pankratova, A. Larichev, N. Iroshnikov
Faculty of Physics, Lomonosov MSU, Moscow, Russian Federation
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
The iterative reconstruction methods of the wavefront phase estimation from a set of discrete phase slope measurements
have been considered. The values of the root-mean-square difference between the reconstructed and original wavefront
have been received for Jacobi, Gauss-Seidel, Successive over-relaxation and Successive over-relaxation with Simpson
Reconstructor methods. The method with the highest accuracy has been defined.
Keywords: Wavefront Estimation; Phase; Reconstruction; Iterative Methods
Now methods of adaptive optics become more and more
widespread in optics. That appears to be particularly im-
portant for ultra-high intensity lasers as the number of
optical elements that this lasers include is rather high so
the appearance of static and thermo-induced aberrations
of the wavefront are possible , for diagnostic medical
systems for correction of the crystalline lens and corneal
aberrations and for ground-based telescopes to correct
for the atmospheric aberrations. In this paper we consider
the comparison research of the iterative methods of esti-
mating wavefront phase from a set of discrete phase
slope measurements that was obtained from a Hartmann
2. Shack-Hartmann Wavefront Sensor
2.1. Operation Principle
The Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensor contains a lenslet
array that consists of a two-dimensional array of a few
hundred lenslets all with the same diameter and the same
focal length. The light ray spatially sampled into many
individual beams by the lenslet array and forms multiple
spots in the focal plane of the lenslets. A CCD camera
placed in the focal plane of the lanslet array records the
spot array pattern for wavefront calculation. For a wave
with plane wavefront the Shack-Hartmann spots are
formed along the optical axis of each lenslet, resulting in
a regularly spaced grid of spots in the focal plane of the
lenslet array. In contrast, individual spots formed by
wavefront with aberrations are displaced from the optical
axis of each lenslet. The displacement of each spot is
proportional to the wavefront slope.
2.2. Specific Features
Modern Shack-Hartmann sensors consist of a large
number of lenslets, this number can exceed 10000. While
using such sensors it's possible to face the problem of
crosstalk, limited aperture and the loss of some points.
Not all methods of wavefront estimation are suitable un-
der these conditions.
3. Wavefront Reconstruction Methods
As an example of reconstruction methods can be taken
modal and zonal wavefront reconstruction methods.
• In the modal approach the wavefront is expanded
into a set of orthogonal basis functions, and the coeffi-
cients of the set of basis functions are estimated from the
discrete phase-slope measurements. The appearance of
the large reconstruction error is possible.
• In the zonal approach, the wavefront is estimated
directly from a set of discrete phase-slope measurements.
Estimated with this method wavefront has less recon-
struction error then that in modal approach. For the zonal
reconstruction method the iterative algorithms may be
4. Iterative Methods
4.1. Jacobi and Gauss-Seidel Methods
One of the first iterative methods are Jacobi and Gauss-
Seidel methods. These methods were proposed by South-
well for wavefront reconstruction. The idea behind this
method is to take into account the wavefront deformation
for some vertical and horizontal adjacent spots in the
calculation of the wavefront deformation for all spots.
Southwell proposed an iterative solution where for any
point (n,m) the wavefront is calculated with (1), (2) and
*Russian Foundation for Basic Research №11-02-01353-a.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. OPJ
Y. PANKRATOVA ET AL. 87
(3) integrating from four neighboring points, one above,
one below, one at the left, and one to the right of the
point being considered, as it's illustrated in Figure 1. 
nm nm nm
Sn,m=gn-1,mSxn-1,m- gn+1,mSxn+1,m +gn,m-1Syn,m-1- gn,m+1Syn,m+1
is the nearest-neighbor phase average; Sn,m
-slope measurement; gn,m-matrix of weights defined for
If the left-hand side of (1) is held in a separate array
until all points are evaluated, this procedure is the Jacobi
method. If, however, the left hand side updates the wave-
front array directly, such that succeeding evaluations of
the right-hand side could use phase points that have al-
ready been updated, then the procedure is called the Gauss-
Seidel method. Generally, the Gauss-Seidel method con-
verges faster and is easier to implement. 
4.2. Successive Over-relaxation (SOR) and SOR
with Simpson Iterator
None of these methods, however, updates a phase point
based on the previous value at the point. By adding and
on the right-hand side of the (1) and
introducing the relaxation parameter ω (5), we get (4)
This iterative technique is the SOR method. The SOR
method generally promises improvement in convergence,
however, it is necessary to determine the value of the
relaxation parameter ω which maximizes the rate of
convergence. Fortunately the phase reconstruction prob-
lem belongs to the class of matrices for which the opti-
mal value of ω is known. 
The further development of the SOR method is the use
of the Simpson scheme to make differential equations. In
this case, to calculate the phase of the point, values in 8
neighboring points are used. As it is shown on Figure 2.
The iteration formula for SOR will be modified to (6).
More information about Simpson iterator, and how the
equations for slope measurements and phase average are
received, can be found in .
5. Wavefront Reconstruction using
5.1. All Points are Known
Described iterative methods have been applied to the
reconstruction of the simulated wavefront that contains
the astigmatism (7) Figure 3.
Figure 1. Wavefront calculation for point (n,m).
Figure 2. Simpson iterator geometry.
Figure 3. Simulated wavefront.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. OPJ
Y. PANKRATOVA ET AL.
where λ-value less 0.08; gL, gR,gU,gD -are flags with val-
ues 0'or 1.; gLR,gUD -is 1 only if two points exist.
2.3717(/ 2)(/ 2)2
This wavefront was reconstructed using 4 described
above methods for several values of iterations performed.
As a parameter characterizing the degree of accuracy of
reconstruction of the wave front was chosen the root
mean square difference of the reconstructed wavefront
from original one. According to the obtained values, it
was concluded that the SOR method using Simpson
scheme provides the greatest accuracy and speed of re-
Received data is given in the Table 1, reconstructed
with SOR Simpson method wavefront is given on the
5.2. Case of Data Point Loss
Besides the behavior of the reconstruction algorithm un-
der the conditions of absence for some reasons (for ex-
ample due to speckle modulation ) of data point at one
or more nodes of the array has been studied. In this case
according to the SOR Simpson method features, each of
four groups of points can be used in the equation only
Table 1. Received rms values.
iterations Jacobi Gauss-Seidel SOR SOR Simpson
16 0.4008 0.3340 0.1666 4.78 * 10-5
64 0.3385 0.1822 0.0181 6.28 * 10-16
128 0.2014 0.0717 0.0019 7.06 * 10-16
Figure 4. Reconstructed wavefront.
when all of its elements exist. This strategy is realized by
using g parameters as shown in eq.(6). Even under such
conditions method gives rather high accuracy of wave-
front reconstruction. The contour plots received in case
of all points existence Figure 5 and in case of loss of one
of the points Figure 6 are given below.
6. Reconstruction Method using Fourier
In unit III we mentioned only two methods, that are used
for wavefront estimation - zonal and modal, but still
there is one more method that provides rather high level
of accuracy. The Fourier method.
In  offered a method for using the 2D fast Fourier
transform (FFT) twice, for acquiring both gradient field
components from a Hartmann-Shack measurement.
The algorithm of such a method comprises of the fol-
Figure 5. Contour plot in case when all points are known.
Figure 6. Contour plot in case when one point is lost.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. OPJ
Y. PANKRATOVA ET AL.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. OPJ
• Zero-pad the image to twice the aperture size;
• Fourier transform the image;
• Multiply the transform by a band-pass filter around
the x sidelobe;
• Center the result of the Fourier origin;
• Inverse transform the filter x lobe;
• Extract the phase of the result, to yield the x slope
of the wavefront
• Repeat previous steps for y lobe;
• Reconstruct the phase from it's x and y slopes;
Expression for the irradiance function of the Hart-
mann-Shack pattern is written in the next form:
ik xik x
ik yik y
Cr VreCr Vre
where V(r) is the pattern amplitude at location r(x,y), and
is assumed to be constant within the optical aperture,
zero without. kx and ky are two k vector components: kx =
2 π/Px and ky = 2 π/Py, where the lenslet array pitch is
Px×Py. F is the lenslet array focal length, and x, y are
the phase x and y derivatives at r and are to be deter-
Than the Fourier transform of this expression is taken.
And all described above steps are made.
This method considered to be rather accurate.
The comparison of two described above methods was
held for the same simulated wavefront that contained
astigmatism over a square aperture of area 172. Table II
contains received rms values for different number of
points where data don't exist.
After looking at the Table II it becomes obvious that
SOR Simpson method provides higher level of accuracy
then the FFT method. Even thou the RMS for SOR
Simpson method provides non-obvious increase in accu-
racy for a small number of absent data point in compari-
son with RMS when all points are known. But this could
be explained with features of Simpson method of compi-
lation of differential equations.
A number of iterative methods of wavefront estimation
were studied and data that reflects the level of accuracy
of each method received. After having the results of nu-
merical simulations analyzed it was concluded that the
highest accuracy of reconstruction, the highest rate of
convergence and resistance to the loss of some points of
array only the SOR with Simpson scheme has. So it can
be recommended for usage in conjunction with high
resolution Shack-Hartmann sensors in variety of applica-
 O. Shanin, “Adaptive Optical Systems for Ultra-High
Intensity Lasers,” Technosfera, Moscow, 2012.
 J. Porter and others, “Adaptive Optics for Vision Sci-
 D. Malacara, “Optical Shop Testing,” 3rd Edition,
 W. H. Southwell, “Wavefront Estimation from Wavefront
Slope Measurements,” Journal of the Optical Society of
America, Vol. 70, No. 8, 2007.
 S. W. Bahk, “Highly Accurate Wavefront Reconstruction
Algorithms over Broad Spatial-Frequency Bandwidth,”
Optics Express, 2011.doi:10.1364/OE.19.018997
 A. S. Goncharov and A. V. Larichev, “Speckle Structure
of A Light Field Scattered by Human Eye Retina,” Laser
Physics, Vol. 17, No. 9, 2007.
 Y. Carmon and E. N. Ribak, “Phase Retrieval by De-
modulation of A Hartmann-Shack Sensor”