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This pioneering, course-tested text is the first to combine communications theory with the physics of optical communications. Comprehensive and rigorous, it brings together an in-depth treatment of the physical characteristics of the guided lightwave channel with the study of modern methods of algorithmic-based communication in time and space. The many different levels at which a lightwave communication signal can be described are integrated to provide a unified explanation of how a commonplace bit stream is transformed into a physical lightwave, how that lightwave travels through an optical fiber, and how it is then transformed back into the bit stream. Background fundamentals such as linear systems and electromagnetics are explained in relation to modern topics such as channel models, encoding, modulation and interference, and end-of-chapter problems are provided throughout. This is an essential text for students taking courses on optical communications, as well as researchers and professionals working in the area.