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Demonstration - Bad Eigenbasis Reasoning

Roger Bradshaw, ME 565


I started this example to show another way to calculate the inverse of X by first normalizing the
eigenvectors for Example 4 in Section 8.4 of Kreyszig 10th Ed. (p. 342). Once this was done,
I reasoned, I could then obtain the inverse using the orthogonal matrix relationship (A-1 = AT).
First begin with the eigenvectors given in that example.
T T T
x1 ( 1 3 1 ) x2 ( 1 1 3 ) x3 ( 2 1 4 )

Determine the square of the length of each vector using dot product

T T T
LSq1 x1 x1 11 LSq2 x2 x2 11 LSq3 x3 x3 21

So the normalized eigenvectors (call these as xn) become


x1 T
xn1 xn1 ( 0.3015 0.9045 0.3015 )
LSq1
x2 T
xn2 xn2 ( 0.3015 0.3015 0.9045 )
LSq2
x3 T
xn3 xn3 ( 0.4364 0.2182 0.8729 )
LSq3
Now create the X matrix using these eigenvectors (note MathCad indexes matrices from 0)
k 0 2 X xn1 0 (first) column of X is xn1 vector
k 0 k
X xn2 1 (second) column of X is xn2 vector
k 1 k
X xn3 2 (third) column of X is xn3 vector
k 2 k

So with this we have:

0.3015 0.3015 0.4364


X 0.9045 0.3015 0.2182

0.3015 0.9045 0.8729
Since the eigenvectors are orthonormal, we also know that X is orthogonal. Hence X-1 = XT.
Show this by direct expansion to find the identity matrix.

1 0.636 0.197
X X 0.636 0.855
T
1

0.197 0.855 1

Why does this not work? Because the example has n distinct eigenvalues and therefore its
eigenvectors form a basis. However, only a symmetric matrix provides an orthonormal basis.
Since the matrix in question is not symmetric, the eigenvectors are not orthogonal.
T but
xn1 xn1 1
7.3 0.2 3.7
A = 11.5 1.0 5.5 and T not 0 and
xn1 xn2 0.6364

17.7 1.8 9.3 T not 0 etc.
xn1 xn3 0.1974

So keep this in mind - symmetric matrices form an orthonormal basis so it is easy to find the inverse
of X (it is simply XT if each eigenvector is normalized). But this only works if the matrix is symmetric,
which is NOT the only way to get n distinct eigenvalues (and thus form an eigen basis).