The polarization properties of an electromagnetic field that propagates in a fiber with polarization-mode dispersion (PMD) and randomly varying birefringence are studied by resorting to the coupled nonlinear Schrödinger equations. It is shown that the concept of principal states of polarization (PSP’s), meant to be the states that allow undistorted pulse propagation to be achieved in the presence of PMD, may be defined even in the presence of dispersion and nonlinearity. Furthermore, nonlinear PSP’s are proved to coincide with linear PSP’s, as they are customarily defined through the frequency dependence of the fiber input/output relation. Finally, it is also shown that the propagation equations may be exactly reduced to the Manakov equations for any fixed realization of the random process accounting for the fiber PMD. As a result, a whole class of simulton pulses that preserve their shape in the presence of PMD is analytically found.
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