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Multiplicative noise (also known as speckle noise) models are central to the study of coherent imaging systems, such as synthetic aperture radar and sonar, and ultrasound and laser imaging. These models introduce two additional layers of difficulties with respect to the standard Gaussian additive noise scenario: (1) the noise is multiplied by (rather than added to) the original image; (2) the noise is not Gaussian, with Rayleigh and Gamma being commonly used densities. These two features of multiplicative noise models preclude the direct application of most state-of-the-art algorithms, which are designed for solving unconstrained optimization problems where the objective has two terms: a quadratic data term (log-likelihood), reflecting the additive and Gaussian nature of the noise, plus a convex (possibly nonsmooth) regularizer (e.g., a total variation or wavelet-based regularizer/prior). In this paper, we address these difficulties by: (1) converting the multiplicative model into an additive one by taking logarithms, as proposed by some other authors; (2) using variable splitting to obtain an equivalent constrained problem; and (3) dealing with this optimization problem using the augmented Lagrangian framework. A set of experiments shows that the proposed method, which we name MIDAL (multiplicative image denoising by augmented Lagrangian), yields state-of-the-art results both in terms of speed and denoising performance.