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In face recognition tasks, the dimension of the sample space is typically larger than the number of the samples in the training set. As a consequence, the within-class scatter matrix is singular and the linear discriminant analysis (LDA) method cannot be applied directly. This problem is known as the "small sample size" problem. In this paper, we propose a new face recognition method called the discriminative common vector method based on a variation of Fisher's linear discriminant analysis for the small sample size case. Two different algorithms are given to extract the discriminative common vectors representing each person in the training set of the face database. One algorithm uses the within-class scatter matrix of the samples in the training set while the other uses the subspace methods and the Gram-Schmidt orthogonalization procedure to obtain the discriminative common vectors. Then, the discriminative common vectors are used for classification of new faces. The proposed method yields an optimal solution for maximizing the modified Fisher's linear discriminant criterion given in the paper. Our test results show that the discriminative common vector method is superior to other methods in terms of recognition accuracy, efficiency, and numerical stability.