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It is shown that two stochastic electromagnetic beams that propagate from the source plane z=0 into the half-space z>0 may have different degrees of polarization throughout the half-space, even though they have the same sets of Stokes parameters in the source plane. This fact is due to a possible difference in the coherence properties of the field in that plane, but other reasons are also possible. The result is illustrated by an example.


This paper was published in Optics Letters and is made available as an electronic reprint with the permission of OSA. The paper can be found at the following URL on the OSA website: Systematic or multiple reproduction or distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means is prohibited and is subject to penalties under law.

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