Optimal discrimination of coherent states is one of the long-standing fundamental problems in quantum communication theory. Although the minimum possible error rate (the Helstrom bound [1]) is known for almost five decades, there is no simple way to achieve it in practice. Theoretical models of optimal quantum receivers which can reach the Helstrom bound require sophisticated experimental resources such as instantaneous feedback control of the signal followed by high-bandwidth single-photon detection [2], or creation of “Schrödinger cat” states [3]. The inherent complexity of these models makes their practical realization elusive. In this work, we show a realistic optimal receiver for coherent states which admits a relatively simple technological implementation [4]. The schematic setup of the receiver is shown in Fig. 1.

© 2015 IEEE

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