We address the dynamics of a bosonic system coupled to either a bosonic or a magnetic environment and derive a set of sufficient conditions that allow one to describe the dynamics in terms of the effective interaction with a classical fluctuating field. We find that for short interaction times the dynamics of the open system is described by a Gaussian noise map for several different interaction models and independently on the temperature of the environment. In order to go beyond a qualitative understanding of the origin and physical meaning of the above short-time constraint, we take a general viewpoint and, based on an algebraic approach, suggest that any quantum environment can be described by classical fields whenever global symmetries lead to the definition of environmental operators that remain well defined when increasing the size, i.e., the number of dynamical variables, of the environment. In the case of the bosonic environment this statement is exactly demonstrated via a constructive procedure that explicitly shows why a large number of environmental dynamical variables and, necessarily, global symmetries, entail the set of conditions derived in the first part of the work.

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