Given $R_x$ a Positive Definite (PD) covariance matrix of size $M\times M$ and $C$ a full rank $M \times N$ matrix, I want to prove that $C^* R_x^{-1} C$ is invertible to derive the Linearly Constrained Minimum Variance Beamforming.

My ideas so far:

  1. Since $R_x$ commutes with its adjoint, it can be written using the eigendecomposition $R_x = U \Lambda U^*$
  2. $R_x$ is PD, $R_x^{-1}$ is also PD since $\lambda_i > 0 \Longrightarrow \lambda_i^{-1} > 0$
  3. Matrix $U$ defines an orthonormal basis and $C$ is full rank. Can view $U^* C$ as a projection onto this basis.

2 Answers 2


First, this question is probably better for MATH.SE, but I'll give it a shot.

It's been a long long time since I did this stuff.

If $N > M$:

1) $C^*$ has rank M.

2) $R_x^{-1}$ has rank M. (or it wouldn't exist as an inverse)

3) Therefore $C^*R_x^{-1}$ has rank M, since $R_x^{-1}$ is a full rank square matrix.

4) $C$ has rank M

5) $C^*R_x^{-1}C$ has rank less than or equal to M and is NxN.

6) $C^*R_x^{-1}C$ is a not a full rank square matrix and is thus not invertible.

If $N \le M$:

1) $C^*$ has rank N.

2) $R_x^{-1}$ has rank M. (or it wouldn't exist as an inverse)

3) Therefore $C^*R_x^{-1}$ has rank N.

4) $C$ has rank N

5) $C^*R_x^{-1}C$ has rank less than or equal to N and is NxN.

6) $C^*R_x^{-1}C$ could be full rank square matrix and is thus could be invertible.

At this point, I am not sure what is required for $C^*R_x^{-1}C$ to have rank N. I have narrowed the results, but not fully answered your question.

Gosh, I hope I have this right.



Starting with another disclaimer: Ordinarily I don't answer questions here unless I am fairly rock solid in my understanding of the subject matter. In this case, as the edit history shows, I am muddling about quite a bit.

I had to look up the Frobenius inequality and I understand how you get $ M \leq \text{rank}(C^* R_x^{-1} C) $ from it in the $N \ge M$ case. I still don't see how it could be greater than $M$.

Oriol B inserted:

Regarding your question about the Frobenius inequality, I derived it as follows: $\text{rank}(C^* R_x^{-1} C) \geq \text{rank}(C^*R_x^{-1}) + \text{rank}(R_x^{-1}C) - \text{rank}(R_x^{-1})=\text{rank}(C^*R_x^{-1}) + \text{rank}(R_x^{-1}C) - M $. And by now using Sylvester's rank inequality, we get $\text{rank}(C^*R_x^{-1}C) \geq \text{rank}(C^*R_x^{-1}) + \text{rank}(R_x^{-1}C) - M \geq rank(C^*) + \text{rank}(R_x^{-1}) - M + \text{rank}(R_x^{-1}) + \text{rank}(C) - M - M = \text{rank}(C^*) + \text{rank}(C) - M = M $ and the last inequality follows by the assumption.

I do feel confident in my $N>M$ argument, but thanks to this addition, you can change #5 to saying the rank of $C^* R_x^{-1} C$ is $M$. However, if $ N > M $, then the rank is still smaller than the dimension and it is still not invertible. It should be with $N=M$.

I'm still mucking with the $N \le M$ case. Using Frobenius you get $ \text{rank}(C^* R_x^{-1} C) \ge 2N - M $. For $N=M$ it looks like the result will have rank N and be NxN so it will be invertible.

Since the $N<M$ case is of no interest to you I am stopping for a while on this.


Another update:

I think I found the first flaw in your argument. I mean, there has to be one in order for mine to be correct. ;-)

$C$ is $M$x$N$ and $y$ is $N$x$1$ so $Cy$ is $M$x$1$.

$Cy$ can be interpreted as the linear combination of $N$ $M$ length vectors (the columns of C). If $N>M$, your assertion that Cy can't be zero is false.

I'm not sure where your misconception arises. Here is a concrete counter example:

Suppose $M=2,N=3$

$$ \begin{bmatrix} 1 & 0 & 1 \\ 0 & 1 & 1 \end{bmatrix} \begin{bmatrix} 1 \\ 1 \\ -1 \end{bmatrix} = \begin{bmatrix} 0 \\ 0 \end{bmatrix} $$

$$ Cy = 0 $$

Clearly, $y \ne 0$ yet $Cy$ is. The rank of $C$ is 2.

Response to OriolB's "Of course your assumption ..." comment:

By "your assumption" you mean my second case of $N \le M$. I didn't get that, sorry.

It seems that you have removed the "less than or" part of step 5, thus proving it invertible. I had left it hanging since you had said you were only interested in $N>M$ which I proved was not invertible in the first case.

For the $N>M$ case, perhaps a pseudo-inverse will suffice for your greater purposes.

  • $\begingroup$ @OriolB Your comment is hard to decipher. I get how you derived it, I'm just a bit puzzled about what it says. $\endgroup$ Nov 22, 2019 at 22:04
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry about that @cedron, I incorporated my comment in your reply inside the yellow box since it was hard to format as a comment. $\endgroup$
    – Oriol B
    Nov 22, 2019 at 22:06
  • $\begingroup$ @OriolB Yeah, you did so while I was editing, so you must have missed my edit. I have left it there, but I think it would have been better for you to append your own answer so no one is confused about authorship. I have re-inserted my edit. $\endgroup$ Nov 22, 2019 at 22:11
  • $\begingroup$ @OriolB Ponder my latest appendum. $\endgroup$ Nov 23, 2019 at 0:03
  • $\begingroup$ you are absolutely right. The range being $M$ means that the null-space is $N−M$ not zero, so there are cases like yours where we obtain zero for a non-zero input. Sorry for the silly confusion, I just confused the dimensions. Check my updated answer (now with your same assumption!) $\endgroup$
    – Oriol B
    Nov 23, 2019 at 22:22

Thanks for your answer Cedron! Taking your same assumption $N \leq M$, and by definition of PD, $x^* R_x^{-1} x > 0\quad \forall x \in \mathbb{R}^M \setminus \{0\}$ and since $C$ is full rank $\dim (\mathcal{R}(C)) = \min(M,N)= N$. By the rank-nulity theorem, $\dim (\mathcal{R}(C)) + \dim(\mathcal{N}(A))=N$, so we have that the null-space is trivial. This means the projection $\tilde{x} := C y \neq 0\quad \forall y \in \mathbb{R}^N \setminus \{0\}$. Hence \begin{align} \tilde{x} = 0 \Longleftrightarrow y = 0 \tag{1} \end{align} Now we can see that $\tilde{x}^* R_x^{-1} \tilde{x} > 0\quad \forall \tilde{x} \neq 0$ following from PD of $R_x^{-1}$ so using the latter and (1), \begin{align} \tilde{x}^* R_x^{-1} \tilde{x} := y^* C^* R_x^{-1} C y > 0\quad \forall y \in \mathbb{R}^N \setminus \{0\} \tag{2} \end{align} and thus $C^* R_x^{-1} C$ is PD and hence invertible.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ $x$ is a (complex valued in general) vector, right ? so the product $x R_x^{-1} x$ does not define anything. I think you meant $x^H R_x^{-1} x$ ? $\endgroup$
    – Fat32
    Nov 22, 2019 at 16:28
  • $\begingroup$ You're welcome, see my followup. $\endgroup$ Nov 22, 2019 at 20:19
  • $\begingroup$ I've added an update, check it out. $\endgroup$ Nov 22, 2019 at 21:58
  • $\begingroup$ If $N \ge M$ then $min(M,N) = M$. Why did you change that? $\endgroup$ Nov 23, 2019 at 23:14
  • $\begingroup$ Of course your assumption was $N \leq M$ so I just forgot to change this part (it was a mere typo) $\endgroup$
    – Oriol B
    Nov 24, 2019 at 9:33

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