We have developed a numerical code that, starting from far-field intensity measurements, is able to evaluate the excitation coefficients of the transverse modes in a laser system. Both the coherent and incoherent mode cases are addressed, and, while the incoherent case is shown to be equivalent to a linear, problem, the coherent case is discussed through its equivalence to the phase-retrieval problem. Problems arising from both ill posedness and the nonlinearity are discussed in detail. The validity of our approach is confirmed by several numerical simulations and some experimental results on the characterization of a Q-switched Nd:YAG laser.
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