This paper thoroughly investigates the maximum-likelihood sequence detection (MLSD) receiver for the optical ON-OFF keying (OOK) channel in the presence of both polarization mode dispersion and group velocity dispersion (GVD). A reliable method is provided for computing the relevant performance for any possible value of the system parameters, with no constraint on the sampling rate. With one sample per bit time, a practically exact expression of the statistics of the received samples is found, and therefore the performance of a synchronous MLSD receiver is evaluated and compared with that of other electronic techniques such as combined feedforward and decision-feedback equalizers (FFE and DFE). It is also shown that the ultimate performance of electronic processing can be obtained by sampling the received signal at twice the bit rate. An approximate accurate closed-form expression of the receiver metrics is also identified, allowing for the implementation of a practically optimal MLSD receiver.
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