Using the idealized integrable Maxwell-Bloch model, we describe random optical-pulse polarization switching along an active optical medium in the lambda-configuration with disordered occupation numbers of its lower energy sub-level pair. The description combines complete integrability and stochastic dynamics. For the single-soliton pulse, we derive the statistics of the electric-field polarization ellipse at a given point along the medium in closed form. If the average initial population difference of the two lower sub-levels vanishes, we show that the pulse polarization will switch intermittently between the two circular polarizations as it travels along the medium. If this difference does not vanish, the pulse will eventually forever remain in the circular polarization determined by which sub-level is more occupied on average. We also derive the exact expressions for the statistics of the polarization-switching dynamics, such as the probability distribution of the distance between two consecutive switches and the percentage of the distance along the medium the pulse spends in the elliptical polarization of a given orientation in the case of vanishing average initial population difference. We find that the latter distribution is given in terms of the well-known arcsine law.

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This work was partly supported by the National Science Foundation through grant DMS-1009453.

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