# Covariance matrix

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The matrix formed from the pairwise covariances of several random variables; more precisely, for the $k$- dimensional vector $X = ( X _ {1} \dots X _ {k} )$ the covariance matrix is the square matrix $\Sigma = {\mathsf E} [ ( X - {\mathsf E} X ) ( X - {\mathsf E} X ) ^ {T} ]$, where ${\mathsf E} X = ( {\mathsf E} X _ {1} \dots {\mathsf E} X _ {k} )$ is the vector of mean values. The components of the covariance matrix are:

$$\sigma _ {ij} = {\mathsf E} [ ( X _ {i} - {\mathsf E} X _ {i} ) ( X _ {j} - {\mathsf E} X _ {j} ) ] = \ \mathop{\rm cov} ( X _ {i} , X _ {j} ) ,$$

$$i , j = 1 \dots k ,$$

and for $i = j$ they are the same as ${\mathsf D} X _ {i}$( $= \mathop{\rm var} ( X _ {i} )$) (that is, the variances of the $X _ {i}$ lie on the principal diagonal). The covariance matrix is a symmetric positive semi-definite matrix. If the covariance matrix is positive definite, then the distribution of $X$ is non-degenerate; otherwise it is degenerate. For the random vector $X$ the covariance matrix plays the same role as the variance of a random variable. If the variances of the random variables $X _ {1} \dots X _ {k}$ are all equal to 1, then the covariance matrix of $X = ( X _ {1} \dots X _ {k} )$ is the same as the correlation matrix.

The sample covariance matrix for the sample $X ^ {(1)} \dots X ^ {(n)}$, where the $X ^ {(m)}$, $m = 1 \dots n$, are independent and identically-distributed random $k$- dimensional vectors, consists of the variance and covariance estimators:

$$S = \frac{1}{n-1}\sum_{m=1}^n ( X ^ {(m)} - \overline{X}\; ) ( X ^ {(m)} - \overline{X}\; ) ^ {T} ,$$

where the vector $\overline{X}\;$ is the arithmetic mean of the $X ^ {(1)} \dots X ^ {(n)}$. If the $X ^ {(1)} \dots X ^ {(n)}$ are multivariate normally distributed with covariance matrix $\Sigma$, then $S ( n - 1 ) / n$ is the maximum-likelihood estimator of $\Sigma$; in this case the joint distribution of the elements of the matrix $( n - 1 ) S$ is called the Wishart distribution; it is one of the fundamental distributions in multivariate statistical analysis by means of which hypotheses concerning the covariance matrix $\Sigma$ can be tested.

How to Cite This Entry:
Covariance matrix. Encyclopedia of Mathematics. URL: http://encyclopediaofmath.org/index.php?title=Covariance_matrix&oldid=55243
This article was adapted from an original article by A.V. Prokhorov (originator), which appeared in Encyclopedia of Mathematics - ISBN 1402006098. See original article