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The synthesis of a nonuniform antenna array with as few elements as possible has considerable practical applications. This paper introduces a new non-iterative method for linear array synthesis based on the matrix pencil method (MPM). The method can synthesize a nonuniform linear array with a reduced number of elements, and can be also used to reduce the number of elements for linear arrays designed by other synthesis techniques. In the proposed method, the desired radiation pattern is first sampled to form a discrete pattern data set. Then we organize the discrete data set in a form of Hankel matrix and perform the singular value decomposition (SVD) of the matrix. By discarding the non-principal singular values, we obtain an optimal lower-rank approximation of the Hankel matrix. The lower-rank matrix actually corresponds to fewer antenna elements. The matrix pencil method is then utilized to reconstruct the excitation and location distributions from the approximated matrix. Numerical examples show the effectiveness and advantages of the proposed synthesis method.