So far, Brillouin scattering and cavity optomechanics have been mostly disconnected branches of research, although both deal with photon-phonon coupling. This begs for the development of a broader theory that contains both fields. Here, we derive the dynamics of optomechanical cavities from that of Brillouin-active waveguides. This explicit transition elucidates the link between phenomena such as Brillouin amplification and electromagnetically induced transparency. It proves that effects familiar from cavity optomechanics all have traveling-wave partners, but not vice versa. We reveal a close connection between two parameters of central importance in these fields: the Brillouin gain coefficient and the zero-point optomechanical coupling rate. This enables comparisons between systems as diverse as ultracold atom clouds, plasmonic Raman cavities, and nanoscale silicon waveguides. In addition, back-of-the-envelope calculations show that unobserved effects, such as photon-assisted amplification of traveling phonons, are now accessible in existing systems. Finally, we formulate both circuit- and cavity-oriented optomechanics in terms of vacuum coupling rates, cooperativities, and gain coefficients, thus reflecting the similarities in the underlying physics.
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