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In this paper, an efficient method for high-speed face recognition based on the discrete cosine transform (DCT), the Fisher's linear discriminant (FLD) and radial basis function (RBF) neural networks is presented. First, the dimensionality of the original face image is reduced by using the DCT and the large area illumination variations are alleviated by discarding the first few low-frequency DCT coefficients. Next, the truncated DCT coefficient vectors are clustered using the proposed clustering algorithm. This process makes the subsequent FLD more efficient. After implementing the FLD, the most discriminating and invariant facial features are maintained and the training samples are clustered well. As a consequence, further parameter estimation for the RBF neural networks is fulfilled easily which facilitates fast training in the RBF neural networks. Simulation results show that the proposed system achieves excellent performance with high training and recognition speed, high recognition rate as well as very good illumination robustness.