This paper shows how to use multiple importance sampling to study the performance of polarization-mode dispersion (PMD) compensators with a single differential group delay (DGD) element. We compute the eye opening penalty margin for compensated and uncompensated systems with outage probabilities of 10^-5 or less with a fraction of the computational cost required by standard Monte Carlo methods. This paper shows that the performance of an optimized compensator with a fixed DGD element is comparable to that of a compensator with a variable DGD element. It also shows that the optimal value of the DGD compensator is two to three times larger than the mean DGD of the transmission line averaged over fiber realizations. This technique can be applied to the optimization of any PMD compensator whose dominant sources of residual penalty are both the DGD and the length of the frequency derivative of the polarization-dispersion vector.
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