Bridging the gap between laser physics and applied mathematics, this book offers a new perspective on laser dynamics. Combining fresh treatments of classic problems with up-to-date research, asymptotic techniques appropriate for nonlinear dynamical systems are shown to offer a powerful alternative to numerical simulations. The combined analytical and experimental description of dynamical instabilities provides a clear derivation of physical formulae and an evaluation of their significance. Starting with the observation of different time scales of an operating laser, the book develops approximation techniques to systematically explore their effects. Laser dynamical regimes are introduced at different levels of complexity, from standard turn-on experiments to stiff, chaotic, spontaneous or driven pulsations. Particular attention is given to quantitative comparisons between experiments and theory. The book broadens the range of analytical tools available to laser physicists and provides applied mathematicians with problems of practical interest, making it invaluable for graduate students and researchers.