In this book we treat the interaction of radiation with matter with special application to gain (amplifying) media typically existing in lasers. Tradition­ ally the interaction of radiation with matter is treated in terms of the index of refraction and the absorption of light, utilizing the model of electrons on springs. In Chap. 3 we show that this model is reasonable for some linear absorbing systems but is very awkward, if not outright unworkable, for a microscopic description of gain media. The essential failure of the electron-spring model is its difficulty in yielding net stimulated emission (and therefore gain) for an ensemble of systems.t In contrast, a more physically sound, quantum treatment of matter provides for the concept of population inversion and explains stimulated emission in a natural way. Hence from the very start we are compelled to base our understanding of the interaction of radiation with matter on a quantum-mechanical description of atoms. In Chaps. 1-13 a classical field interacts with quantum-mechanical atoms; in the remainder of the book, both field and atoms are treated quantum mechani­ cally.