A representation of the mutual coherence function (MCF) of a light pulse as an incoherent sum of partially-coherent elementary pulses is introduced. It is shown that this MCF can be decomposed into fully and partially-coherent constituents and three different pulse models of partially-coherent constituents are constructed: single elementary-pulse fluctuations, emission of elementary fields driven by white noise, and elementary pulses triggered by Poisson impulses. The fourth-order correlation function of this last model includes as limit cases those of the fluctuating-pulse and noise-driven-emission models. These results provide a means of extending elementary-field models to higher-order coherence theory.
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