Coherence-a Sticky Subject. Academic Article uri icon


  • The concept of coherence has been applied in the quantum theory of radiation and matter as well as in classical optics. We review here the meaning of the term in each case and show how these apparently different uses of the word coherence can be understood in terms of a single concept involving interference (nonzero cross terms), minimum uncertainty, and cohering (uniform variance) of the wave packet that describes the system. Self-induced transparency, superradiance, and superconductivity are discussed as dramatic examples of coherence.

published proceedings

  • Appl Opt

author list (cited authors)

  • Scully, M. O., & Jacobs, S. F.

citation count

  • 6

complete list of authors

  • Scully, MO||Jacobs, SF

publication date

  • November 1970