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We investigate the impact of state-complexity reduction on the performance of maximum likelihood sequence detection (MLSD) receivers for direct-photodetection long-haul optical communication systems affected by uncompensated chromatic dispersion (CD). We directly compare two possible approaches: (i) detection through a simple ldquobrute-forcerdquo state-complexity reduction strategy and (ii) a more structured reduced-state sequence detection (RSSD) strategy. The performance of both state-complexity reduction techniques is evaluated considering two realistic optical transmission schemes, based on on-off keying (OOK) and optical duobinary modulation (ODBM), respectively. The detection algorithms are characterized considering the impact of the timing offset, the quantization scheme, and the amount of uncompensated CD. As one would expect, for a given number of states in MLSD receivers, the schemes based on RSSD exhibit better performance with respect to those based on simple brute-force state-complexity reduction. However, we show that MLSD schemes based on the use of brute-force state-complexity reduction are characterized by a better complexity/performance trade-off for low/medium CD values, whereas RSSD is the best choice for high CD values.