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What does it mean to say that there are "coupling effects" between some elements of an optical system? I've searched through the literature, but I cannot find a general explanation of what this means – every mention of it assumes that the reader already knows what it means.

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Based on this paper, as well as other sources I've come across in my research, it seems to just be a technical way of saying that the elements, or the action of the elements, "depend" on each other (have "dependancy" on the state of each other in some way).

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