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A discrete cosine transform (DCT) is defined and an algorithm to compute it using the fast Fourier transform is developed. It is shown that the discrete cosine transform can be used in the area of digital processing for the purposes of pattern recognition and Wiener filtering. Its performance is compared with that of a class of orthogonal transforms and is found to compare closely to that of the Karhunen-Loève transform, which is known to be optimal. The performances of the Karhunen-Loève and discrete cosine transforms are also found to compare closely with respect to the rate-distortion criterion.