Few-mode fiber transmission systems are typically impaired by mode-dependent loss (MDL). In an MDL-impaired link, maximum-likelihood (ML) detection yields a significant advantage in system performance compared to linear equalizers, such as zero-forcing and minimum-mean square error equalizers. However, the computational effort of the ML detection increases exponentially with the number of modes and the cardinality of the constellation. We present two methods that allow for near-ML performance without being afflicted with the enormous computational complexity of ML detection: improved reduced-search ML detection and sphere decoding. Both algorithms are tested regarding their performance and computational complexity in simulations of three and six spatial modes with QPSK and 16QAM constellations.
Lobato, A., Rabe, J., Ferreira, F., Kuschnerov, M., Spinnler, B., & Lankl, B. (2015). Near-ML detection for MDL-impaired few-mode fiber transmission. Optics Express, 23(8), 9589-9601. https://doi.org/10.1364/OE.23.009589