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Variable digital filters (VDFs) are useful to the implementation of digital receivers because its frequency characteristics such as fractional delays and cutoff frequencies can be varied online. It is shown that the optimal minimax design of VDFs with passband linear-phase can be formulated and solved as a semi-definite programming (SDP) problem, which is a powerful convex optimization method. In addition, other objective functions, such as least squares, and linear and convex quadratic inequality constraints can readily be incorporated. Design examples using a variable fractional delay (VFD) and a variable cutoff frequency (VCF) FIR filters are given to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed approach.