7 Vector Basics

Because variables can be treated as vectors in a geometric sense, I would like to briefly revisit a couple of key concepts for operating with vectors: the inner product and derived operations.

7.1 Inner Product

The concept of an inner product is one of the most important matrix algebra concepts, also referred to as the dot product. The inner product is a special operation defined on two vectors \(\mathbf{x}\) and \(\mathbf{y}\) that, as its name indicates, allows us to multiply \(\mathbf{x}\) and \(\mathbf{y}\) in a certain way.

The inner product of two vectors \(\mathbf{x}\) and \(\mathbf{y}\)—of the same size— is defined as:

\[ \mathbf{x \cdot y} = \sum_{i = 1}^{n} x_i y_i \]

basically the inner product consists of the element-by-element product of \(\mathbf{x}\) and \(\mathbf{y}\), and then adding everything up. The result is not another vector but a single number, a scalar. We can also write the inner product \(\mathbf{x \cdot y}\) in vector notation as \(\mathbf{x^\mathsf{T} y}\) since

\[ \mathbf{x^\mathsf{T} y} = (x_1 \dots x_n) \begin{pmatrix} y_1 \\ \vdots \\ y_n \end{pmatrix} = \sum_{i = 1}^{n} x_i y_i \]

Consider the data about Leia and Luke used in the last chapter:

     weight height
Leia    150     49
Luke    172     77

For example, the inner product of weight and height in \(\mathbf{M}\) is

\[ \texttt{weight}^\mathsf{T} \hspace{1mm} \texttt{height} = (150 \times 49) + (172 \times 77) = 20594 \]

What does this value mean? To answer this question we need to discuss three other concepts that are directly derived from having an inner product:

  1. Length of a vector

  2. Angle between vectors

  3. Projection of vectors

All these aspects play a very important role for multivariate methods. But not only that, we’ll see in a moment how many statistical summaries can be obtained through inner products.

7.2 Length

Another important usage of the inner product is that it allows us to define the length of a vector \(\mathbf{x}\), denoted by | |, as the square root of the inner product with itself::

\[ \| \mathbf{x} \| = \sqrt{\mathbf{x^\mathsf{T} x}} \]

which is typically known as the norm of a vector. We can calculate the length of the vector weight:

\[ \| \texttt{weight} \| = \sqrt{(150 \times 150) + (172 \times 172)} = 228.2192 \]

Likewise, the length of the vector height:

\[ \| \texttt{height} \| = \sqrt{(49 \times 49) + (77 \times 77)} = 91.2688 \]

Note that the inner product of a vector with itself is equal to its squared norm: \(\mathbf{x^\mathsf{T} x} = \| \mathbf{x} \|^2\)

7.3 Angle

In addition to the length of a vector, the angle between two nonzero vectors \(\mathbf{x, y}\) can also be expressed using inner products. The angle \(\theta\) is such that:

\[ cos(\theta) = \frac{\mathbf{x^\mathsf{T} y}}{\sqrt{\mathbf{x^\mathsf{T} x}} \hspace{1mm} \sqrt{\mathbf{y^\mathsf{T} y}}} \]


\[ cos(\theta) = \frac{\mathbf{x^\mathsf{T} y}}{\| \mathbf{x} \| \hspace{1mm} \| \mathbf{y} \|} \]

Equivalently, we can reexpress the formula of the inner product using

\[ \mathbf{x^\mathsf{T} y} = \| \mathbf{x} \| \hspace{1mm} \| \mathbf{y} \| \hspace{1mm} cos(\theta) \]

The angle between weight and height in \(\mathbf{M}\) is such that:

\[ cos(\theta) = \frac{20594}{228.2192 \times 91.2688} = 0.9887 \]

7.4 Orthogonality

Besides calculating lengths of vectors and angles between vectors, an inner product allows us to know whether two vectors are orthogonal. In a two dimensional space, orthogonality is equivalent to perpendicularity; so if two vectors are perpendicular to each other—the angle between them is a 90 degree angle—they are orthogonal. Two vectors vectors \(\mathbf{x}\) and \(\mathbf{y}\) are orthogonal if their inner product is zero:

\[ \mathbf{x^\mathsf{T} y} = 0 \iff \mathbf{x} \hspace{1mm} \bot \hspace{1mm} \mathbf{y} \]

7.5 Projection

The last aspect I want to touch related with the inner product is the so-called projections. The idea we need to consider is the orthogonal projection of a vector \(\mathbf{y}\) onto another vector \(\mathbf{x}\).

The basic notion of projection requires two ingredients: two vectors \(\mathbf{x}\) and \(\mathbf{y}\). To obtain the projection of \(\mathbf{y}\) onto \(\mathbf{x}\), we need to express \(\mathbf{x}\) in unit norm. The obtained projection \(\hat{\mathbf{y}}\) is expressed as \(a \mathbf{x}\). This means that a projection implies multiplying \(\mathbf{x}\) by some number \(a\), such that \(\hat{\mathbf{y}} = a \mathbf{x}\) is a stretched version of \(\mathbf{x}\). This is better appreciated in the following figure.

Having two nonzero vectors \(\mathbf{x}\) and \(\mathbf{y}\), we can project \(\mathbf{y}\) on \(\mathbf{x}\)

\[ projection = \mathbf{x} \left( \frac{\mathbf{y^\mathsf{T} x}}{\mathbf{x^\mathsf{T} x}} \right) \]

\[ = \mathbf{x} \left( \frac{\mathbf{y^\mathsf{T} x}}{\| \mathbf{x} \|^2} \right) \]