We propose a training symbol based channel estimation (TS-EST) algorithm that estimates the 2 × 2 Jones channel matrix. The estimated matrix entries are then used as the initial center taps of the 2 × 2 butterfly equalizer. Employing very few training symbols for TS-EST, ultrafast polarization tracking is achieved and tap update can be initially pursued using the decision-directed least mean squares (DD-LMS) algorithm to mitigate residual intersymbol interference (ISI). We experimentally verify the proposed TS-EST algorithm for 112 Gbps PDM-QPSK and 224 Gbps PDM-16QAM systems using 10 and 40 training symbols for TS-EST, respectively. Steady-state and transient bit error rates (BERs) achieved using the TS-EST algorithm are compared to those obtained using the constant modulus algorithm (CMA) and the training symbol least mean squares (TS-LMS) algorithm and results show that the proposed TS-EST algorithm provides the same steady-state BER with a superior convergence speed. Also, the tolerance of the proposed TS-EST algorithm to laser phase noise and fiber nonlinearity is experimentally verified. Finally, we show by simulation that the superior tracking speed of the TS-EST algorithm allows not only for initial polarization tracking but also for tracking fast polarization transients if four training symbols are periodically sent during steady-state operation with an overhead as low as 0.57%.
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