We review recent theoretical developments concerning the definition and the renormalization of equal-time correlators that can be computed on the lattice and related to Parton Distribution Functions (PDFs) through a factorization formula. We show how these objects can be studied and analyzed within the framework of a nongauge theory, gaining insight through a one-loop computation. We use scalar field theory as a playground to revise, analyze and present the main features of these ideas, to explore their potential, and to understand their limitations for extracting PDFs. We then propose a framework that would allow to include the available lattice QCD data in a global anlysis to extract PDFs.

We present analytical results for the Euclidean 2-point correlator of the flavor-singlet vector current evolved by the gradient flow at next-to-leading order ($O(g^2)$) in perturbatively massless QCD-like theories. We show that the evolved 2-point correlator requires multiplicative renormalization, in contrast to the nonevolved case, and confirm, in agreement with other results in the literature, that such renormalization ought to be identified with a universal renormalization of the evolved elementary fermion field in all evolved fermion-bilinear currents, whereas the gauge coupling renormalizes as usual. We explicitly derive the asymptotic solution of the Callan-Symanzik equation for the connected 2-point correlators of these evolved currents in the limit of small gradient-flow time $\sqrt{t}$, at fixed separation $|x-y|$. Incidentally, this computation determines the leading coefficient of the operator-product expansion (OPE) in the small $t$ limit for the evolved currents in terms of their local nonevolved counterpart. Our computation also implies that, in the evolved case, conservation of the vector current, hence transversality of the corresponding 2-point correlator, is no longer related to the nonrenormalization, in contrast to the nonevolved case. Indeed, for small flow time the evolved vector current is conserved up to $O(t)$ softly violating effects, despite its $t$-dependent nonvanishing anomalous dimension.