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In biometrics research and industry, it is critical yet a challenge to match infrared face images to optical face images. The major difficulty lies in the fact that a great discrepancy exists between the infrared face image and corresponding optical face image because they are captured by different devices (optical imaging device and infrared imaging device). This paper presents a new approach called common feature discriminant analysis to reduce this great discrepancy and improve optical-infrared face recognition performance. In this approach, a new learning-based face descriptor is first proposed to extract the common features from heterogeneous face images (infrared face images and optical face images), and an effective matching method is then applied to the resulting features to obtain the final decision. Extensive experiments are conducted on two large and challenging optical-infrared face data sets to show the superiority of our approach over the state-of-the-art.