Coherent and Incoherent States of the Radiation Field
Methods are developed for discussing the photon statistics of arbitrary fields in fully quantum-mechanical terms. In order to keep the classical limit of quantum electrodynamics plainly in view, extensive use is made of the coherent states of the field. These states, which reduce the field correlation functions to factorized forms, are shown to offer a convenient basis for the description of fields of all types. Although they are not orthogonal to one another, the coherent states form a complete set. It is shown that any quantum state of the field may be expanded in terms of them in a unique way. Expansions are also developed for arbitrary operators in terms of products of the coherent state vectors. These expansions are discussed as a general method of representing the density operator for the field. A particular form is exhibited for the density operator which makes it possible to carry out many quantum-mechanical calculations by methods resembling those of classical theory. This representation permits clear insights into the essential distinction between the quantum and classical descriptions of the field. It leads, in addition, to a simple formulation of a superposition law for photon fields. Detailed discussions are given of the incoherent fields which are generated by superposing the outputs of many stationary sources. These fields are all shown to have intimately related properties, some of which have been known for the particular case of blackbody radiation.