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In this paper, we present an improved fuzzy C-means (FCM) algorithm for image segmentation by introducing a tradeoff weighted fuzzy factor and a kernel metric. The tradeoff weighted fuzzy factor depends on the space distance of all neighboring pixels and their gray-level difference simultaneously. By using this factor, the new algorithm can accurately estimate the damping extent of neighboring pixels. In order to further enhance its robustness to noise and outliers, we introduce a kernel distance measure to its objective function. The new algorithm adaptively determines the kernel parameter by using a fast bandwidth selection rule based on the distance variance of all data points in the collection. Furthermore, the tradeoff weighted fuzzy factor and the kernel distance measure are both parameter free. Experimental results on synthetic and real images show that the new algorithm is effective and efficient, and is relatively independent of this type of noise.