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The design of decision feedback equalizers (DFEs) is typically based on the minimum mean square error (MMSE) principle as this leads to effective adaptive implementation in the form of the least mean square algorithm. It is well-known, however, that in certain situations, the MMSE solution can be distinctly inferior to the optimal minimum symbol error rate (MSER) solution. We consider the MSER design for multilevel pulse-amplitude modulation. Block-data adaptive implementation of the theoretical MSER DFE solution is developed based on the Parzen window estimate of a probability density function. Furthermore, a sample-by-sample adaptive MSER algorithm, called the least symbol error rate (LSER), is derived for adaptive equalization applications. The proposed LSER algorithm has a complexity that increases linearly with the equalizer length. Computer simulation is employed to evaluate the proposed alternative MSER design for equalization application with multilevel signaling schemes.