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Generally, the synthesis of coherent spatial filters is restricted to the linear region of the transfer characteristic of a photographic film. However, a technique of synthesizing a nonlinear spatial filter such that the signal detection may be optimum will be described. In this paper, a generalized linear optimization technique is formulated. The application of this optimization technique toward a simple nonlinear spatial filter is demonstrated, and the extension of this optimization technique for a more complicated nonlinear spatial filter is also given. The signal detection by nonlinear optimum spatial filtering is analyzed. Finally, it is concluded that, instead of restricting the spatial-filter recording to the linear region of the transfer characteristic of the photographic film, an optimum nonlinear spatial filter may be achieved.