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This paper presents direct model reference adaptive control for a class of nonlinear systems with unknown nonlinearities. The model following conditions are assured by using adaptive neural networks as the nonlinear state feedback controller. Both full state information and observer-based schemes are investigated. ; All the signals in the closed loop are guaranteed to be bounded and the system state is proven to converge to a small neighborhood of the reference model state. It is also shown that stability conditions can be formulated as linear matrix inequalities (LMI) that can be solved using efficient software algorithms. ; The control performance of the closed-loop system is guaranteed by suitably choosing the design parameters. Simulation results are presented to show the effectiveness of the approach.