The coefficient of regression $\beta$ is often expressed as:

$\beta = (X^TX)^{-1}X^Ty$

I came across the notation below. Can someone help me visualize how the summation of column vectors $x_i$ is equivalent to the matrix notation?

$X^TX = \sum_{i=1}^{n}(x_ix_i^T)$

  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean by how does it manifest? $X = [x_1 … x_i … x_n]$ is the matrix containing the values of the independent variables in regression. In finance, $x_i$ would typically be the returns of a set of indices for a specific period (e.g. yesterday’s S&P 500 return), and a 1 for any intercept term. $y$ is a vector containing the values of the dependent variables in each period. $X^{T}X = \Sigma^{n}_{1} x_i x^T_j$ are just two ways of writing the same calculation. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 12:51
  • $\begingroup$ I could not figure out (visualize) how the summation equals the Matrix. $\endgroup$
    – whisperer
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 15:34
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It's useful to be comfortable with both notations. My go-to is the matrix notation, but sometimes the other notation is useful. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 21:42

1 Answer 1


In econometrics it is usually simpler to use a small example. I also have a lot of issues in visualizing those notations and small examples always help me. Let's make an example:

$ X= \begin{bmatrix} 1 & 5 \\ 3 & 7 \end{bmatrix}$

Therefore: $ X^T X= \begin{bmatrix} 10 & 26 \\ 26 & 74 \end{bmatrix}$

Now two vectors: $x_1 = \begin{bmatrix} 1 \\ 5 \end{bmatrix}$ and $x_2 = \begin{bmatrix} 3 \\ 7 \end{bmatrix}$


$x_1 x_1^T = \begin{bmatrix} 1 & 5\\ 5 & 25 \end{bmatrix}$ and $x_2 x_2^T = \begin{bmatrix} 9 & 21\\ 21 & 49 \end{bmatrix}$

Add both togheter: $x_1 x_1^T + x_2 x_2^T = \begin{bmatrix} 10 & 26\\ 26 & 74 \end{bmatrix}$

  • $\begingroup$ This example is good. Understanding dimensions is also helpful. In general $X$ has nr rows and nc columns. Note that $x_1,x_2,\cdots,x_{nr}$ are each of size nc, i.e. they are read off the rows of $X$. $X^T X$ is of size nc by nc, as is each $x_i x_i^T$. $\endgroup$
    – Alex C
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 19:23

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