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Time-frequency representations (TFRs) are efficient tools for nonstationary signal classification. However, the choice of the TFR and of the distance measure employed is critical when no prior information other than a learning set of limited size is available. In this letter, we propose to jointly optimize the TFR and distance measure by minimizing the (estimated) probability of classification error. The resulting optimized classification method is applied to multicomponent chirp signals and real speech records (speaker recognition). Extensive simulations show the substantial improvement of classification performance obtained with our optimization method.