The singular-vectors analysis of a general nonnormal operator defined on a finite-dimensional complex vector space is given in the frame of a pure operatorial (“nonmatrix,” “coordinate-free”) approach, performed in a Dirac language. The general results are applied in the field of polarization optics, where the nonnormal operators are widespread as operators of various polarization devices. Two nonnormal polarization devices representative for the class of nonnormal and even pathological operators—the standard two-layer elliptical ideal polarizer (singular operator) and the three-layer ambidextrous ideal polarizer (singular and defective operator)—are analyzed in detail. It is pointed out that the unitary polar component of the operator exists and preserves, in such pathological case too, its role of converting the input singular basis of the operator in its output singular basis. It is shown that for any nonnormal ideal polarizer a complementary one exists, so that the tandem of their operators uniquely determines their (common) unitary polar component.
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