In this work, the principle of interferometry is used to assess the surface roughness of the machined surfaces. Interferometry produces an interference fringe pattern when two or more light waves interact with each other. It is one of the important tool for precision optical metrology and testing. Well-known advantages of the phase shifting interferometry include high measurement accuracy, rapid measurement, good result even with low contrast fringes and that the polarity of the wave front can be determined. In fringe projection techniques, a known optical fringe pattern is projected onto the surface of interest. The fringe pattern on the surface is perturbed in accordance with the profile of the test surface, thereby enabling direct derivation of surface profile. In this work, an attempt has been made to assess the surface roughness using a speckle fringe analysis method of five frame phase shift algorithm for machined surface (ground surface). As these fringes are too noisy, advanced filtering technique has been used so as to reduce noise and to get improved wrapped phase map from the phase shifted fringes. A phase unwrapping software has been developed using discrete cosine transform (DCT) to generate the three-dimensional (3-D) profiles. Finally, it is compared with Ra values measured using a mechanical stylus instrument, showing good agreement. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.