Can someone point me to a webpage or other resource that shows how to analytically solve the beamformer Unconstrained Array Gain expression in Henry Cox's 1987 IEEE paper "Robust Adaptive Beamforming"?

$$ \max_{\mathbf{w}} \frac{|\mathbf{w}^H\mathbf{d}|^2}{\mathbf{w}^H\mathbf{Q}\mathbf{w}} $$

Cox says:

The well-known solution is $\mathbf{w} = \alpha\mathbf{Q}^{-1}\mathbf{d}$

I'd just like to better understand this by learning how to derive this myself.

  • $\begingroup$ Not 100% sure, but perhaps they calculated the derivative of the expression and validated where the derivative equals 0. $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Dec 29, 2020 at 19:34
  • $\begingroup$ The solution of this equality constrained quadratic programming problem is possible that uses a pseudoinverse, rather than simple inverse, of matrix Q. For general equality constrained QP problems, this extended solution has a benefit of relaxing the requirement for matrix Q to be strictly positive definite. Don't know if this generalization may be useful for beamformers. $\endgroup$
    – V.V.T
    Jan 1, 2021 at 10:27

3 Answers 3


A common way is to make use of the Schwarz inequality. First note that:

$$\frac{|w^Hd|^2}{w^HQw} = \frac{|w^HQ^{1/2}Q^{-1/2}d|^2}{w^HQw}$$

Using the Schwarz inequality on the numerator: $$\frac{|w^HQ^{1/2}Q^{-1/2}d|^2}{w^HQw} \leq \frac{(w^HQw)(d^HQ^{-1}d)}{w^HQw} = d^HQ^{-1}d$$

Thus, $$\frac{|w^HQ^{1/2}Q^{-1/2}d|^2}{w^HQw} \leq d^HQ^{-1}d$$

From this, it can easily be seen that the beamformer that achieves equality is $w = \alpha Q^{-1}d$.


  • 1
    $\begingroup$ To show that this $w$ maximizes SNR, simply substitute $w = Q^{-1}d$ into the inequality above. First, expand the numerator of the left side of the inequality, noting that $Q$ is Hermitian: $$\frac{|w^HQ^{1/2}Q^{-1/2}d|^2}{w^HQw} = \frac{(w^HQ^{1/2}Q^{-1/2}d)^H(w^HQ^{1/2}Q^{-1/2}d)}{w^HQw} = \frac{d^Hww^Hd}{w^HQw} $$ Then, substituting $w = Q^{-1}d$: $$ \frac{d^Hww^Hd}{w^HQw} = \frac{d^HQ^{-1}dd^HQ^{-1}d}{d^HQ^{-1}QQ^{-1}d} = \frac{d^HQ^{-1}dd^HQ^{-1}d}{d^HQ^{-1}d} = d^HQ^{-1}d $$ Thus, this definition of $w$ achieves the maximum possible SNR indicated by the Schwartz inequality. $\endgroup$
    – Gillespie
    Feb 12, 2021 at 18:37

You can solve such a problem using the method of Lagrange multipliers. First note that maximizing the expression in your question is equivalent to minimizing the inverse function:


Next note that the solution of $(1)$ is invariant to scaling of $\mathbf{w}$, i.e., replacing $\mathbf{w}$ by $c\cdot\mathbf{w}$ in $(1)$ with an arbitrary scalar constant $c$ will not change the value of the function. So we may as well use a scaling such that $\mathbf{w}^H\mathbf{d}=1$ is satisfied. This scaling corresponds to a unity response for the desired signal. With this constraint, problem $(1)$ can be reformulated as

$$\min_{\mathbf{w}}\mathbf{w}^H\mathbf{Q}\mathbf{w}\qquad\textrm{s.t.}\qquad \mathbf{w}^H\mathbf{d}=1\tag{2}$$

We can solve $(2)$ using the method of Lagrange multipliers by minimizing


Formally taking the derivative of $(3)$ with respect to $\mathbf{w}^H$ and setting it to zero gives


The constraint in $(2)$ is satisfied for


From $(4)$ and $(5)$ we finally obtain


Note that the scaling in $(6)$ is optional and the general solution is given by $(4)$.

  • $\begingroup$ Lagrange multipliers are a great trick! Years ago, I had always thought they were a little sketchy, but I've used them to solve several constrained optimization problems. And they work well. $\endgroup$
    – Peter K.
    Dec 29, 2020 at 23:17
  • $\begingroup$ "Formally taking the derivative of (3) with respect of $w^H$": do you suggest that the Lagrangian (3) is the function of three independent variables, $w, w^H,$ and $λ$? If so, you can likewise take the derivative with respect to $w$ and, setting it to zero, arrive at another minimization equation $w^HQ=0$, can't you? $\endgroup$
    – V.V.T
    Jan 1, 2021 at 10:33
  • $\begingroup$ @V.V.T: No, this wouldn't make sense, but I understand that the version I used also looks like it didn't make sense ... This is related to the Wirtinger derivative. Please take a look at this related answer, and the other answer on math.SE that it links to. $\endgroup$
    – Matt L.
    Jan 1, 2021 at 12:11
  • $\begingroup$ I'm quite familiar with "intricacies" of complex differentiation. Struggling to connect the derivation of formula for MOE beamformer weights and the equality constrained QP problems (like, e.g., in cis.upenn.edu/~cis515/cis515-20-sl15.pdf, Def. / Prop. 18.3), I wonder if a factor 1/2 in definition of a real quadratic form matrix (page #821, or 3/39) may be offset for complex-valued matrices rightly as manifestation of these intricacies. Would you please comment on relevance of this explanation? $\endgroup$
    – V.V.T
    Jan 1, 2021 at 13:36
  • $\begingroup$ @V.V.T: Maybe it would be a good idea to formulate this as a full question, either here or maybe even better on math.SE. $\endgroup$
    – Matt L.
    Jan 1, 2021 at 14:24

First, a sketch of the solution for the maximum SINR beamformer problem $$ \text{max}_{\mathbf{w}} \frac{|\mathbf{w}^H\mathbf{d}|^2}{\mathbf{w}^H\mathbf{Q}\mathbf{w}} $$ Start with writing down a functional $$ \mathbf{w}^H\mathbf{Q}\mathbf{w} $$ to be minimized, and a set of constraints. Indeed, the weight vectors w and wH are considered the two independent set of variables when taking derivates with respect to these variables; therefore, the output signal energy, typically written as a squared modulus of the weights-signals coproduct, has to be written down as an analytic function, without computing the norm that takes the square root: $$ |\mathbf{w}^H\mathbf{d}|^2 = \mathbf{w}^H\mathbf{d}·\mathbf{d}^H\mathbf{w} $$ The resulting set of linear constraints is $$ \mathbf{w}^H\mathbf{d} = c \\ \mathbf{d}^H\mathbf{w} = c^* $$ and we have to write down a Lagrangian with two Lagrange multipliers, λ and μ: $$ \mathbf{w}^H\mathbf{Q}\mathbf{w}-λ(\mathbf{w}^H\mathbf{d}-c)-μ(\mathbf{d}^H\mathbf{w}-c^*) $$ Taking the two derivatives of the Lagrangian -- the first, with respect to w, and the second, with respect to wH -- we obtain the expressions for λ and μ, and, substituting these to the constraint expressions, finally arrive at the formula for weights: $$ \mathbf{w}=c\frac{\mathbf{Q}^{-1}\mathbf{d}}{\mathbf{d}^H\mathbf{Q}^{-1}\mathbf{d}} $$ To my surprize, searching a web for "a webpage or other resource that shows how to analytically solve the beamformer" per OP's request, I could find only curtailed, flawed versions of this formula's derivation, a typical document being the course notes Optimal Beamforming, a detailed and useful introduction into the subject in all the other aspects. I even suspect that the OP posted the question with the purpose to broadcast this omission of the learning resource (excuse my awkward attempt to joke).

For now, I can only recommend the learning material on general linear constraint quadratic programming to students interested in the optimal beamforming. For example, refs. https://www.math.uh.edu/~rohop/fall_06/Chapter3.pdf and https://www.cis.upenn.edu/~cis515/cis515-20-sl15.pdf . Only real-valued quadratic forms are considered in these documents, but the main results can be generalized to the complex domain.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you to all who responded. Very helpful. I had no idea that 𝑤 and 𝑤𝐻 could be treated as independent variables. Many of the details here seem to be above my standard math background from electrical engineering. $\endgroup$
    – j03y_
    Jan 2, 2021 at 5:52
  • $\begingroup$ Something else I just noticed - isn't the Gain expression required to be a real number, yet the denominator 𝐰𝐻𝐐𝐰 is complex? $\endgroup$
    – j03y_
    Jan 2, 2021 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ Oh - I just figured it out - When Q is Hermitian, the denominator does reduce to a real number. I proved this to myself both by hand with a 2x2 Q and 2x1 w, and in Octave as well. $\endgroup$
    – j03y_
    Jan 2, 2021 at 22:03
  • $\begingroup$ "seem to be above my standard math background from electrical engineering": Wait, your questions on SE reveal, least to say, your intuitive sense of crucial issues arisen from application of math tools (SVD vs. Colesky, remember?). $\endgroup$
    – V.V.T
    Jan 2, 2021 at 23:48
  • $\begingroup$ I know a few radically-minded (and successful) engineers declaring that EE is "a branch of applied mathematics". Certainly it is not, being an autonomous discipline with a distinct field of study, uses, and tooling; but it certainly does use advanced mathematics and, in reciprocal motion, contributes to a development of math theories (e.g., see math.stackexchange.com/questions/226818/…). $\endgroup$
    – V.V.T
    Jan 2, 2021 at 23:48

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