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Face recognition algorithm is a very promising technique in biometric authentication. However, the recognition precision can be affected by many factors, such as feature extraction method and classifier selection. In this paper, a novel algorithm for face recognition is presented according to the advances of the wavelet decomposition technique and the Support Vector Machines (SVM) model. The extracted features from human images by wavelet decomposition are less sensitive to facial expression variation. As a classifier, SVM provides high generation performance without transcendental knowledge. First, we detect the face region using an improved AdaBoost algorithm. Second, we extract the appropriate features of the face by wavelet decomposition, and compose the face feature vectors as input to SVM. Third, we train the SVM model by the face feature vectors, and then use the trained SVM model to classify the human face. In the training process, three different kernel functions are adopted: Radial basis function, Polynomial and Linear kernel function. Finally, we present a face recognition system that can achieve high recognition precision and fast recognition speed in practice. Experimental results indicate that the proposed method can achieve recognition precision of 96.78 percent based on 96 persons in Ren-FEdb database that is higher than other approaches.