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Optical layer monitoring and fault localization serves as a critical functional module in the control and management of optical networks. An efficient monitoring scheme aims at minimizing not only the hardware cost required for 100% link failure localization, but also the number of redundant alarms and monitors such that the network fault management can be simplified as well. In recent years, several optical layer monitoring schemes were reported for fast and efficient link failure localization, including simple, non-simple monitoring cycle (m-cycle) and monitoring trail (m-trail). Optimal ILP (Integer Linear Program) models and heuristics were also proposed with smart design philosophy on flexibly trading off different objectives. This article summarizes those innovative ideas and methodologies with in-depth analysis on their pros and cons. We also provide insights on future research topics in this area, as well as possible ways for extending the new failure localization approaches to other network applications.