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Intense ultrashort waveforms of light that can be produced with an exactly predetermined electromagnetic field are essential in a number of applications of extreme nonlinear optics, most prominently in laser-driven sources of high-energy attosecond radiation. Field reproducibility in each laser shot requires stabilization of the carrier-envelope phase. The authors analyze different schemes of phase-stable pulse amplification and identify constraints limiting the precision with which the phase can be maintained. Next, they describe a phase-stabilized laser system based on a 20-fs multipass Ti:sapphire amplifier supplemented with a fiber compression stage for producing pulses in the few-cycle regime. It is shown that the amplifier introduces only a slow millihertz phase drift and, therefore, can be seeded by a standard phase-stabilized oscillator. This residual phase drift is assigned primarily to the beam pointing instability and can be precompensated in the phase-control loop of the seed oscillator using a feedback signal from a phase detector placed in the amplifier output. The phase stability of the resultant 5-fs 400-μJ pulses at a 1-kHz repetition rate is subsequently independently verified by higher order harmonic generation, in which different carrier-envelope phase settings are shown, both theoretically and experimentally, to produce distinctly different spectral shapes of the XUV radiation. From a series of such spectral patterns, the authors succeed in calibrating the value of the carrier envelope phase (with a ±π ambiguity), which in turn allows them to fully characterize the temporal structure of the electric field of the laser pulses. The estimated precision of the phase control on the XUV target is better than π/5, which reduces the timing jitter between the driving laser pulse and the XUV bursts to ∼ 250 as and opens the way to generate stable isolated attosecond pulses.