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An adaptive equalization method is proposed for use with differentially coherent detection of M-ary differential phase-shift keying (DPSK) signals in the presence of unknown carrier frequency offset. A decision-feedback or a linear equalizer is employed, followed by the differentially coherent detector. The equalizer coefficients are adjusted to minimize the post-detection mean squared error. The error, which is a quadratic function of the equalizer vector, is used to design an adaptive algorithm of stochastic gradient type. The approach differs from those proposed previously, which linearize the post-detection error to enable the use of least mean squares (LMS) or recursive least squares (RLS) adaptive equalizers. The proposed quadratic-error (Q) algorithm has complexity comparable to that of LMS, and equal convergence speed. Simulation results demonstrate performance improvement over methods based on linearized-error (L) algorithm. The main advantages of the technique proposed are its simplicity of implementation and robustness to carrier frequency offset, which is maintained for varying modulation level.