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Recent work in machine learning has focused on models, such as the support vector machine (SVM), that automatically control generalization and parameterization as part of the overall optimization process. In this paper, we show that SVMs provide a significant improvement in performance on a static pattern classification task based on the Deterding vowel data. We also describe an application of SVMs to large vocabulary speech recognition and demonstrate an improvement in error rate on a continuous alphadigit task (OGI Alphadigits) and a large vocabulary conversational speech task (Switchboard). Issues related to the development and optimization of an SVM/HMM hybrid system are discussed.