Optical modeling on the computer can aid R&D efforts to enhance metrology methods, and similarly for lithography, alignment, and particulate monitoring. However, full exploitation of optical modeling is hindered by the lack of appropriate benchmarks for verifying algorithms and evaluating approximations. To help remedy this situation we describe a preliminary set of scalar, 2-D numerical reference models (NRMs). These include isolated thin and thick lines, periodic lines, and an isolated trench. Scattered fields are compared for three different solution methods, based on time-domain finite elements, boundary integrals, and a waveguide model. Correlation is good in general, although important differences are seen in both code accuracy and performance. NRM generalizations are suggested that accommodate 3-D effects, imaging, and experimental verification.© (1992) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.