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An optical cavity is described in which the modes are determined as stationary states of the diffraction-limited object/image transformation of classical optics; these modes are selected by the insertion of controls into the optical cavity and lead to field distributions which image these controls. When the cavity is driven by an active medium, laser oscillation can occur, and this is discussed in terms of the coupled mode equations used by Wagner and Birnbaum in their theory of quantum oscillation in a multimode cavity. Some properties of these modes in the limits of small and large optical aperture are described and illustrated with experiments using the helium-neon gas laser.
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