We present an architecture in which a multichannel correlator can perform simultaneous optical pattern recognition. Processing in parallel is made possible by use of the different diffraction orders produced by the pixelated structure of the liquid-crystal spatial light modulator employed to display the input scene. We codify additional quadratic phases in the filters to separate the correlation information corresponding to each channel. We demonstrate that the system can recognize different targets simultaneously. Good agreement between experimental and numerically simulated results is obtained. © 1998 Optical Society of America.