# Independence of Functions of random Variable

Consider I am given two functions of one random variable each for example x=cos(at),y=rect(bt) where a and b are random variables.And I am given Probability density function for a and b then if I am asked if the two functions are independent or not so, I want to confirm that before proceeding I will have to convert the pdf of a and b to pdf of x and y or can I directly proceed with pdf of a and b by proceeding I mean checking if joint probability density is equal to product of marginal probability density.

• If $A$ and $B$ are independent random variables, then $g(A)$ and $h(B)$ also are independent; no need to check anything or do any pdf conversions etc. If $A$ and $B$ are not independent, then in general $g(A)$ and $h(B)$ are not independent either. – Dilip Sarwate Jul 5 '19 at 11:30

The canonical definition of independence of two random variables $$X$$ and $$Y$$ is

$$X$$ and $$Y$$ are called independent random variables if for every choice of Borel sets $$B_1, B_2$$, the events $$\{X \in B_1\}$$ and $$\{Y \in B_2\}$$ are independent events, that is, $$P\{X \in B_1, Y \in B_2\} = P\{X \in B_1\}P\{Y \in B_2\} \tag{1}$$

If you don't know what Borel sets are, rest assured that every set of real numbers you have encountered (and many more that you have never even dreamt of) is a Borel set. Choosing $$B_1 = \{x\colon x \leq u\}$$ and $$B_2 = \{y\colon y \leq u\}$$, Eq. $$(1)$$ tells us that $$P\{X\leq u, Y \leq v\} {=} P\{X\leq u\}P\{Y \leq v\}\tag{2}$$ which can also be expressed as $$F_{X,Y}(u,v) = F_X(u)F_Y(v).\tag{3}$$ It can be proved that if $$(3)$$ holds for all real numbers $$u$$ and $$v$$, then $$(1)$$ also holds and so $$(3)$$ is usually taken as the operational definition of independence of $$X$$ and $$Y$$:

$$X$$ and $$Y$$ are called independent random variables if $$F_{X,Y}(u,v) = F_X(u)F_Y(v) ~\text{for all}~u, v \in \mathbb R.\tag{4}$$

If $$g(\cdot)$$ and $$h(\cdot)$$ are real-valued (measurable) functions, then the random variables $$W = g(X)$$ and $$Z = h(Y)$$ are independent whenever $$X$$ and $$Y$$ are independent. This is because the events $$\{W \leq u\}$$ and $$\{Z \leq v\}$$ are the same as the events $$\{X \in B_1\}$$ and $$\{Y \in B_2\}$$ respectively where $$B_1$$ and $$B_2$$ are the pre-images of the sets $$\{x\colon x \leq u\}$$ and $$\{y\colon y \leq v\}$$ respectively under the maps $$g(\cdot)$$ and $$h(\cdot)$$. That is, \begin{align} B_1 &= \{w\colon g(w) \leq u\},\\ B_2 &= \{z\colon h(z) \leq v\}, \end{align} and from $$(1)$$, we know that $$\{X \in B_1\}$$ and $$\{Y \in B_2\}$$ are independent events. Thus, we have that $$P\{W \leq u, Z \leq v\} = F_{W,Z}(u,v) = P\{W \leq u\}P\{Z \leq v\} = F_{W}(u)F_{Z}(v)~\text{for all}~u, v \in \mathbb R$$ and so $$g(X)$$ and $$h(Y)$$ are also independent random variables. In summary,

Functions of independent random variables are independent random variables.

• In this case W(X,Y) and Q(X,Y) should also be independent isn't it. – Buzz bee Jul 5 '19 at 18:27
• @Buzzbee No, your notion is incorrect. See Fat32's answer. – Dilip Sarwate Jul 5 '19 at 19:57
• @Buzz bee: It's best to develop some inution for the concept of independence rather than just worrying about formulae. In the case of W(X,Y) and Q(X, Y), the random variables X and Y are in both functions, so clearly the value of W(X,Y) is going to related to the value of Q(X,Y) and vice versa. So, they ( W and Q) can't be independent because independence of two random variables ( W and Q can still be thought of as RV's ) says that knowing the value of Q doesn't provide any information about the value of the W and vice versa. Think of dependence as being related to providing information – mark leeds Jul 5 '19 at 20:58
• @markleeds +1 But while you are correct in pointing out that W and Q depend on both X and Y and so cannot be claimed to be independent, there are instances when for specific cases, independence does hold. For example, if $X$ and $Y$ are independent $N(0,\sigma^2)$ random variables, then $R=\sqrt{X^2+Y^2}$ and $\Theta=\arctan\left(\frac YX\right)$ are independent random variables even though both $R$ and $\Theta$ are functions of both $X$ and $Y$. I tell you this against my better judgment because BuzzBee will forget the caveats that this is a very special case and assert that ..... – Dilip Sarwate Jul 5 '19 at 21:30
• .... $g(X,Y)$ and $h(X,Y)$ are independent random variables for all choices of functions $g$ and $h$ and for all possible random variables $X$ and $Y$. Just watch for his next question on dsp.SE..... – Dilip Sarwate Jul 5 '19 at 21:34

It happens that if $$X$$ and $$Y$$ are independent then so will their functions $$g(X)$$ and $$h(Y)$$ be; but not $$g(X,Y)$$ and $$h(X,Y)$$.

• @Dilip Sarwate Plz can you mention how can I tell by inspection that where it went wrong after E[ZW]=E[Z]E[W] step in above answer. – Buzz bee Jul 5 '19 at 11:57