Singular value decomposition

In linear algebra, the singular value decomposition (SVD) is a factorization of a real or complex matrix into a rotation, followed by a rescaling followed by another rotation. It generalizes the eigendecomposition of a square normal matrix with an orthonormal eigenbasis to any matrix. It is related to the polar decomposition.

Illustration of the singular value decomposition UΣV of a real 2 × 2 matrix M.
  • Top: The action of M, indicated by its effect on the unit disc D and the two canonical unit vectors e1 and e2.
  • Left: The action of V, a rotation, on D, e1, and e2.
  • Bottom: The action of Σ, a scaling by the singular values σ1 horizontally and σ2 vertically.
  • Right: The action of U, another rotation.

Specifically, the singular value decomposition of an complex matrix is a factorization of the form where is an complex unitary matrix, is an rectangular diagonal matrix with non-negative real numbers on the diagonal, is an complex unitary matrix, and is the conjugate transpose of . Such decomposition always exists for any complex matrix. If is real, then and can be guaranteed to be real orthogonal matrices; in such contexts, the SVD is often denoted

The diagonal entries of are uniquely determined by and are known as the singular values of . The number of non-zero singular values is equal to the rank of . The columns of and the columns of are called left-singular vectors and right-singular vectors of , respectively. They form two sets of orthonormal bases and and if they are sorted so that the singular values with value zero are all in the highest-numbered columns (or rows), the singular value decomposition can be written as

where is the rank of

The SVD is not unique, however it is always possible to choose the decomposition such that the singular values are in descending order. In this case, (but not and ) is uniquely determined by

The term sometimes refers to the compact SVD, a similar decomposition in which is square diagonal of size where is the rank of and has only the non-zero singular values. In this variant, is an semi-unitary matrix and is an semi-unitary matrix, such that

Mathematical applications of the SVD include computing the pseudoinverse, matrix approximation, and determining the rank, range, and null space of a matrix. The SVD is also extremely useful in all areas of science, engineering, and statistics, such as signal processing, least squares fitting of data, and process control.

Intuitive interpretations

Animated illustration of the SVD of a 2D, real shearing matrix M. First, we see the unit disc in blue together with the two canonical unit vectors. We then see the actions of M, which distorts the disk to an ellipse. The SVD decomposes M into three simple transformations: an initial rotation V, a scaling   along the coordinate axes, and a final rotation U. The lengths σ1 and σ2 of the semi-axes of the ellipse are the singular values of M, namely Σ1,1 and Σ2,2.
Visualization of the matrix multiplications in singular value decomposition

Rotation, coordinate scaling, and reflection


In the special case when   is an   real square matrix, the matrices   and   can be chosen to be real   matrices too. In that case, "unitary" is the same as "orthogonal". Then, interpreting both unitary matrices as well as the diagonal matrix, summarized here as   as a linear transformation   of the space   the matrices   and   represent rotations or reflection of the space, while   represents the scaling of each coordinate   by the factor   Thus the SVD decomposition breaks down any linear transformation of   into a composition of three geometrical transformations: a rotation or reflection ( ), followed by a coordinate-by-coordinate scaling ( ), followed by another rotation or reflection ( ).

In particular, if   has a positive determinant, then   and   can be chosen to be both rotations with reflections, or both rotations without reflections.[citation needed] If the determinant is negative, exactly one of them will have a reflection. If the determinant is zero, each can be independently chosen to be of either type.

If the matrix   is real but not square, namely   with   it can be interpreted as a linear transformation from   to   Then   and   can be chosen to be rotations/reflections of   and   respectively; and   besides scaling the first   coordinates, also extends the vector with zeros, i.e. removes trailing coordinates, so as to turn   into  

Singular values as semiaxes of an ellipse or ellipsoid


As shown in the figure, the singular values can be interpreted as the magnitude of the semiaxes of an ellipse in 2D. This concept can be generalized to  -dimensional Euclidean space, with the singular values of any   square matrix being viewed as the magnitude of the semiaxis of an  -dimensional ellipsoid. Similarly, the singular values of any   matrix can be viewed as the magnitude of the semiaxis of an  -dimensional ellipsoid in  -dimensional space, for example as an ellipse in a (tilted) 2D plane in a 3D space. Singular values encode magnitude of the semiaxis, while singular vectors encode direction. See below for further details.

The columns of U and V are orthonormal bases


Since   and   are unitary, the columns of each of them form a set of orthonormal vectors, which can be regarded as basis vectors. The matrix   maps the basis vector   to the stretched unit vector   By the definition of a unitary matrix, the same is true for their conjugate transposes   and   except the geometric interpretation of the singular values as stretches is lost. In short, the columns of       and   are orthonormal bases. When   is a positive-semidefinite Hermitian matrix,   and   are both equal to the unitary matrix used to diagonalize   However, when   is not positive-semidefinite and Hermitian but still diagonalizable, its eigendecomposition and singular value decomposition are distinct.

Relation to the four fundamental subspaces

  • The first   columns of   are a basis of the column space of  .
  • The last   columns of   are a basis of the null space of  .
  • The first   columns of   are a basis of the column space of   (the row space of   in the real case).
  • The last   columns of   are a basis of the null space of  .

Geometric meaning


Because   and   are unitary, we know that the columns   of   yield an orthonormal basis of   and the columns   of   yield an orthonormal basis of   (with respect to the standard scalar products on these spaces).

The linear transformation


has a particularly simple description with respect to these orthonormal bases: we have


where   is the  -th diagonal entry of   and   for  

The geometric content of the SVD theorem can thus be summarized as follows: for every linear map   one can find orthonormal bases of   and   such that   maps the  -th basis vector of   to a non-negative multiple of the  -th basis vector of   and sends the left-over basis vectors to zero. With respect to these bases, the map   is therefore represented by a diagonal matrix with non-negative real diagonal entries.

To get a more visual flavor of singular values and SVD factorization – at least when working on real vector spaces – consider the sphere   of radius one in   The linear map   maps this sphere onto an ellipsoid in   Non-zero singular values are simply the lengths of the semi-axes of this ellipsoid. Especially when   and all the singular values are distinct and non-zero, the SVD of the linear map   can be easily analyzed as a succession of three consecutive moves: consider the ellipsoid   and specifically its axes; then consider the directions in   sent by   onto these axes. These directions happen to be mutually orthogonal. Apply first an isometry   sending these directions to the coordinate axes of   On a second move, apply an endomorphism   diagonalized along the coordinate axes and stretching or shrinking in each direction, using the semi-axes lengths of   as stretching coefficients. The composition   then sends the unit-sphere onto an ellipsoid isometric to   To define the third and last move, apply an isometry   to this ellipsoid to obtain   As can be easily checked, the composition   coincides with  



Consider the   matrix


A singular value decomposition of this matrix is given by  


The scaling matrix   is zero outside of the diagonal (grey italics) and one diagonal element is zero (red bold, light blue bold in dark mode). Furthermore, because the matrices   and   are unitary, multiplying by their respective conjugate transposes yields identity matrices, as shown below. In this case, because   and   are real valued, each is an orthogonal matrix.


This particular singular value decomposition is not unique. Choosing   such that


is also a valid singular value decomposition.

SVD and spectral decomposition


Singular values, singular vectors, and their relation to the SVD


A non-negative real number   is a singular value for   if and only if there exist unit-length vectors   in   and   in   such that


The vectors   and   are called left-singular and right-singular vectors for   respectively.

In any singular value decomposition


the diagonal entries of   are equal to the singular values of   The first   columns of   and   are, respectively, left- and right-singular vectors for the corresponding singular values. Consequently, the above theorem implies that:

  • An   matrix   has at most   distinct singular values.
  • It is always possible to find a unitary basis   for   with a subset of basis vectors spanning the left-singular vectors of each singular value of  
  • It is always possible to find a unitary basis   for   with a subset of basis vectors spanning the right-singular vectors of each singular value of  

A singular value for which we can find two left (or right) singular vectors that are linearly independent is called degenerate. If   and   are two left-singular vectors which both correspond to the singular value σ, then any normalized linear combination of the two vectors is also a left-singular vector corresponding to the singular value σ. The similar statement is true for right-singular vectors. The number of independent left and right-singular vectors coincides, and these singular vectors appear in the same columns of   and   corresponding to diagonal elements of   all with the same value  

As an exception, the left and right-singular vectors of singular value 0 comprise all unit vectors in the cokernel and kernel, respectively, of   which by the rank–nullity theorem cannot be the same dimension if   Even if all singular values are nonzero, if   then the cokernel is nontrivial, in which case   is padded with   orthogonal vectors from the cokernel. Conversely, if   then   is padded by   orthogonal vectors from the kernel. However, if the singular value of   exists, the extra columns of   or   already appear as left or right-singular vectors.

Non-degenerate singular values always have unique left- and right-singular vectors, up to multiplication by a unit-phase factor   (for the real case up to a sign). Consequently, if all singular values of a square matrix   are non-degenerate and non-zero, then its singular value decomposition is unique, up to multiplication of a column of   by a unit-phase factor and simultaneous multiplication of the corresponding column of   by the same unit-phase factor. In general, the SVD is unique up to arbitrary unitary transformations applied uniformly to the column vectors of both   and   spanning the subspaces of each singular value, and up to arbitrary unitary transformations on vectors of   and   spanning the kernel and cokernel, respectively, of  

Relation to eigenvalue decomposition


The singular value decomposition is very general in the sense that it can be applied to any   matrix, whereas eigenvalue decomposition can only be applied to square diagonalizable matrices. Nevertheless, the two decompositions are related.

If   has SVD   the following two relations hold:


The right-hand sides of these relations describe the eigenvalue decompositions of the left-hand sides. Consequently:

  • The columns of   (referred to as right-singular vectors) are eigenvectors of  
  • The columns of   (referred to as left-singular vectors) are eigenvectors of  
  • The non-zero elements of   (non-zero singular values) are the square roots of the non-zero eigenvalues of   or  

In the special case of   being a normal matrix, and thus also square, the spectral theorem ensures that it can be unitarily diagonalized using a basis of eigenvectors, and thus decomposed as   for some unitary matrix   and diagonal matrix   with complex elements   along the diagonal. When   is positive semi-definite,   will be non-negative real numbers so that the decomposition   is also a singular value decomposition. Otherwise, it can be recast as an SVD by moving the phase   of each   to either its corresponding   or   The natural connection of the SVD to non-normal matrices is through the polar decomposition theorem:   where   is positive semidefinite and normal, and   is unitary.

Thus, except for positive semi-definite matrices, the eigenvalue decomposition and SVD of   while related, differ: the eigenvalue decomposition is   where   is not necessarily unitary and   is not necessarily positive semi-definite, while the SVD is   where   is diagonal and positive semi-definite, and   and   are unitary matrices that are not necessarily related except through the matrix   While only non-defective square matrices have an eigenvalue decomposition, any   matrix has a SVD.

Applications of the SVD




The singular value decomposition can be used for computing the pseudoinverse of a matrix. The pseudoinverse of the matrix   with singular value decomposition   is,


where   is the pseudoinverse of  , which is formed by replacing every non-zero diagonal entry by its reciprocal and transposing the resulting matrix. The pseudoinverse is one way to solve linear least squares problems.

Solving homogeneous linear equations


A set of homogeneous linear equations can be written as   for a matrix   and vector   A typical situation is that   is known and a non-zero   is to be determined which satisfies the equation. Such an   belongs to  's null space and is sometimes called a (right) null vector of   The vector   can be characterized as a right-singular vector corresponding to a singular value of   that is zero. This observation means that if   is a square matrix and has no vanishing singular value, the equation has no non-zero   as a solution. It also means that if there are several vanishing singular values, any linear combination of the corresponding right-singular vectors is a valid solution. Analogously to the definition of a (right) null vector, a non-zero   satisfying   with   denoting the conjugate transpose of   is called a left null vector of  

Total least squares minimization


A total least squares problem seeks the vector   that minimizes the 2-norm of a vector   under the constraint   The solution turns out to be the right-singular vector of   corresponding to the smallest singular value.

Range, null space and rank


Another application of the SVD is that it provides an explicit representation of the range and null space of a matrix   The right-singular vectors corresponding to vanishing singular values of   span the null space of   and the left-singular vectors corresponding to the non-zero singular values of   span the range of   For example, in the above example the null space is spanned by the last row of   and the range is spanned by the first three columns of  

As a consequence, the rank of   equals the number of non-zero singular values which is the same as the number of non-zero diagonal elements in  . In numerical linear algebra the singular values can be used to determine the effective rank of a matrix, as rounding error may lead to small but non-zero singular values in a rank deficient matrix. Singular values beyond a significant gap are assumed to be numerically equivalent to zero.

Low-rank matrix approximation


Some practical applications need to solve the problem of approximating a matrix   with another matrix  , said to be truncated, which has a specific rank  . In the case that the approximation is based on minimizing the Frobenius norm of the difference between   and   under the constraint that   it turns out that the solution is given by the SVD of   namely


where   is the same matrix as   except that it contains only the   largest singular values (the other singular values are replaced by zero). This is known as the Eckart–Young theorem, as it was proved by those two authors in 1936 (although it was later found to have been known to earlier authors; see Stewart 1993).

Separable models


The SVD can be thought of as decomposing a matrix into a weighted, ordered sum of separable matrices. By separable, we mean that a matrix   can be written as an outer product of two vectors   or, in coordinates,   Specifically, the matrix   can be decomposed as,


Here   and   are the  -th columns of the corresponding SVD matrices,   are the ordered singular values, and each   is separable. The SVD can be used to find the decomposition of an image processing filter into separable horizontal and vertical filters. Note that the number of non-zero   is exactly the rank of the matrix.[citation needed] Separable models often arise in biological systems, and the SVD factorization is useful to analyze such systems. For example, some visual area V1 simple cells' receptive fields can be well described[1] by a Gabor filter in the space domain multiplied by a modulation function in the time domain. Thus, given a linear filter evaluated through, for example, reverse correlation, one can rearrange the two spatial dimensions into one dimension, thus yielding a two-dimensional filter (space, time) which can be decomposed through SVD. The first column of   in the SVD factorization is then a Gabor while the first column of   represents the time modulation (or vice versa). One may then define an index of separability


which is the fraction of the power in the matrix M which is accounted for by the first separable matrix in the decomposition.[2]

Nearest orthogonal matrix


It is possible to use the SVD of a square matrix   to determine the orthogonal matrix   closest to   The closeness of fit is measured by the Frobenius norm of   The solution is the product  [3] This intuitively makes sense because an orthogonal matrix would have the decomposition   where   is the identity matrix, so that if   then the product   amounts to replacing the singular values with ones. Equivalently, the solution is the unitary matrix   of the Polar Decomposition   in either order of stretch and rotation, as described above.

A similar problem, with interesting applications in shape analysis, is the orthogonal Procrustes problem, which consists of finding an orthogonal matrix   which most closely maps   to   Specifically,


where   denotes the Frobenius norm.

This problem is equivalent to finding the nearest orthogonal matrix to a given matrix  .

The Kabsch algorithm


The Kabsch algorithm (called Wahba's problem in other fields) uses SVD to compute the optimal rotation (with respect to least-squares minimization) that will align a set of points with a corresponding set of points. It is used, among other applications, to compare the structures of molecules.

Signal processing


The SVD and pseudoinverse have been successfully applied to signal processing,[4] image processing[5] and big data (e.g., in genomic signal processing).[6][7][8][9]

Other examples


The SVD is also applied extensively to the study of linear inverse problems and is useful in the analysis of regularization methods such as that of Tikhonov. It is widely used in statistics, where it is related to principal component analysis and to correspondence analysis, and in signal processing and pattern recognition. It is also used in output-only modal analysis, where the non-scaled mode shapes can be determined from the singular vectors. Yet another usage is latent semantic indexing in natural-language text processing.

In general numerical computation involving linear or linearized systems, there is a universal constant that characterizes the regularity or singularity of a problem, which is the system's "condition number"  . It often controls the error rate or convergence rate of a given computational scheme on such systems.[10][11]

The SVD also plays a crucial role in the field of quantum information, in a form often referred to as the Schmidt decomposition. Through it, states of two quantum systems are naturally decomposed, providing a necessary and sufficient condition for them to be entangled: if the rank of the   matrix is larger than one.

One application of SVD to rather large matrices is in numerical weather prediction, where Lanczos methods are used to estimate the most linearly quickly growing few perturbations to the central numerical weather prediction over a given initial forward time period; i.e., the singular vectors corresponding to the largest singular values of the linearized propagator for the global weather over that time interval. The output singular vectors in this case are entire weather systems. These perturbations are then run through the full nonlinear model to generate an ensemble forecast, giving a handle on some of the uncertainty that should be allowed for around the current central prediction.

SVD has also been applied to reduced order modelling. The aim of reduced order modelling is to reduce the number of degrees of freedom in a complex system which is to be modeled. SVD was coupled with radial basis functions to interpolate solutions to three-dimensional unsteady flow problems.[12]

Interestingly, SVD has been used to improve gravitational waveform modeling by the ground-based gravitational-wave interferometer aLIGO.[13] SVD can help to increase the accuracy and speed of waveform generation to support gravitational-waves searches and update two different waveform models.

Singular value decomposition is used in recommender systems to predict people's item ratings.[14] Distributed algorithms have been developed for the purpose of calculating the SVD on clusters of commodity machines.[15]

Low-rank SVD has been applied for hotspot detection from spatiotemporal data with application to disease outbreak detection.[16] A combination of SVD and higher-order SVD also has been applied for real time event detection from complex data streams (multivariate data with space and time dimensions) in disease surveillance.[17]

In astrodynamics, the SVD and its variants are used as an option to determine suitable maneuver directions for transfer trajectory design[18] and orbital station-keeping.[19]

Proof of existence


An eigenvalue   of a matrix   is characterized by the algebraic relation   When   is Hermitian, a variational characterization is also available. Let   be a real   symmetric matrix. Define


By the extreme value theorem, this continuous function attains a maximum at some   when restricted to the unit sphere   By the Lagrange multipliers theorem,   necessarily satisfies


for some real number   The nabla symbol,  , is the del operator (differentiation with respect to  ). Using the symmetry of   we obtain


Therefore   so   is a unit length eigenvector of   For every unit length eigenvector   of   its eigenvalue is   so   is the largest eigenvalue of   The same calculation performed on the orthogonal complement of   gives the next largest eigenvalue and so on. The complex Hermitian case is similar; there   is a real-valued function of   real variables.

Singular values are similar in that they can be described algebraically or from variational principles. Although, unlike the eigenvalue case, Hermiticity, or symmetry, of   is no longer required.

This section gives these two arguments for existence of singular value decomposition.

Based on the spectral theorem


Let   be an   complex matrix. Since   is positive semi-definite and Hermitian, by the spectral theorem, there exists an   unitary matrix   such that


where   is diagonal and positive definite, of dimension  , with   the number of non-zero eigenvalues of   (which can be shown to verify  ). Note that   is here by definition a matrix whose  -th column is the  -th eigenvector of  , corresponding to the eigenvalue  . Moreover, the  -th column of  , for  , is an eigenvector of   with eigenvalue  . This can be expressed by writing   as  , where the columns of   and   therefore contain the eigenvectors of   corresponding to non-zero and zero eigenvalues, respectively. Using this rewriting of  , the equation becomes:


This implies that


Moreover, the second equation implies  .[20] Finally, the unitary-ness of   translates, in terms of   and  , into the following conditions:


where the subscripts on the identity matrices are used to remark that they are of different dimensions.

Let us now define




since   This can be also seen as immediate consequence of the fact that  . This is equivalent to the observation that if   is the set of eigenvectors of   corresponding to non-vanishing eigenvalues  , then   is a set of orthogonal vectors, and   is a (generally not complete) set of orthonormal vectors. This matches with the matrix formalism used above denoting with   the matrix whose columns are  , with   the matrix whose columns are the eigenvectors of   with vanishing eigenvalue, and   the matrix whose columns are the vectors  .

We see that this is almost the desired result, except that   and   are in general not unitary, since they might not be square. However, we do know that the number of rows of   is no smaller than the number of columns, since the dimensions of   is no greater than   and  . Also, since


the columns in   are orthonormal and can be extended to an orthonormal basis. This means that we can choose   such that   is unitary.

For   we already have   to make it unitary. Now, define


where extra zero rows are added or removed to make the number of zero rows equal the number of columns of   and hence the overall dimensions of   equal to  . Then


which is the desired result:


Notice the argument could begin with diagonalizing   rather than   (This shows directly that   and   have the same non-zero eigenvalues).

Based on variational characterization


The singular values can also be characterized as the maxima of   considered as a function of   and   over particular subspaces. The singular vectors are the values of   and   where these maxima are attained.

Let   denote an   matrix with real entries. Let   be the unit  -sphere in  , and define      

Consider the function   restricted to   Since both   and   are compact sets, their product is also compact. Furthermore, since   is continuous, it attains a largest value for at least one pair of vectors   in   and   in   This largest value is denoted   and the corresponding vectors are denoted   and   Since   is the largest value of   it must be non-negative. If it were negative, changing the sign of either   or   would make it positive and therefore larger.

Statement.   and   are left and right-singular vectors of   with corresponding singular value  

Proof. Similar to the eigenvalues case, by assumption the two vectors satisfy the Lagrange multiplier equation:


After some algebra, this becomes


Multiplying the first equation from left by   and the second equation from left by   and taking   into account gives


Plugging this into the pair of equations above, we have


This proves the statement.

More singular vectors and singular values can be found by maximizing   over normalized   and   which are orthogonal to   and   respectively.

The passage from real to complex is similar to the eigenvalue case.

Calculating the SVD


One-sided Jacobi algorithm


One-sided Jacobi algorithm is an iterative algorithm,[21] where a matrix is iteratively transformed into a matrix with orthogonal columns. The elementary iteration is given as a Jacobi rotation,


where the angle   of the Jacobi rotation matrix   is chosen such that after the rotation the columns with numbers   and   become orthogonal. The indices   are swept cyclically,  , where   is the number of columns.

After the algorithm has converged, the singular value decomposition   is recovered as follows: the matrix   is the accumulation of Jacobi rotation matrices, the matrix   is given by normalising the columns of the transformed matrix  , and the singular values are given as the norms of the columns of the transformed matrix  .

Two-sided Jacobi algorithm


Two-sided Jacobi SVD algorithm—a generalization of the Jacobi eigenvalue algorithm—is an iterative algorithm where a square matrix is iteratively transformed into a diagonal matrix. If the matrix is not square the QR decomposition is performed first and then the algorithm is applied to the   matrix. The elementary iteration zeroes a pair of off-diagonal elements by first applying a Givens rotation to symmetrize the pair of elements and then applying a Jacobi transformation to zero them,


where   is the Givens rotation matrix with the angle chosen such that the given pair of off-diagonal elements become equal after the rotation, and where   is the Jacobi transformation matrix that zeroes these off-diagonal elements. The iterations proceeds exactly as in the Jacobi eigenvalue algorithm: by cyclic sweeps over all off-diagonal elements.

After the algorithm has converged the resulting diagonal matrix contains the singular values. The matrices   and   are accumulated as follows:  ,  .

Numerical approach


The singular value decomposition can be computed using the following observations:

  • The left-singular vectors of   are a set of orthonormal eigenvectors of  .
  • The right-singular vectors of   are a set of orthonormal eigenvectors of  .
  • The non-zero singular values of   (found on the diagonal entries of  ) are the square roots of the non-zero eigenvalues of both   and  .

The SVD of a matrix   is typically computed by a two-step procedure. In the first step, the matrix is reduced to a bidiagonal matrix. This takes order   floating-point operations (flop), assuming that   The second step is to compute the SVD of the bidiagonal matrix. This step can only be done with an iterative method (as with eigenvalue algorithms). However, in practice it suffices to compute the SVD up to a certain precision, like the machine epsilon. If this precision is considered constant, then the second step takes   iterations, each costing   flops. Thus, the first step is more expensive, and the overall cost is   flops (Trefethen & Bau III 1997, Lecture 31).

The first step can be done using Householder reflections for a cost of   flops, assuming that only the singular values are needed and not the singular vectors. If   is much larger than   then it is advantageous to first reduce the matrix   to a triangular matrix with the QR decomposition and then use Householder reflections to further reduce the matrix to bidiagonal form; the combined cost is   flops (Trefethen & Bau III 1997, Lecture 31).

The second step can be done by a variant of the QR algorithm for the computation of eigenvalues, which was first described by Golub & Kahan (1965). The LAPACK subroutine DBDSQR[22] implements this iterative method, with some modifications to cover the case where the singular values are very small (Demmel & Kahan 1990). Together with a first step using Householder reflections and, if appropriate, QR decomposition, this forms the DGESVD[23] routine for the computation of the singular value decomposition.

The same algorithm is implemented in the GNU Scientific Library (GSL). The GSL also offers an alternative method that uses a one-sided Jacobi orthogonalization in step 2 (GSL Team 2007). This method computes the SVD of the bidiagonal matrix by solving a sequence of   SVD problems, similar to how the Jacobi eigenvalue algorithm solves a sequence of   eigenvalue methods (Golub & Van Loan 1996, §8.6.3). Yet another method for step 2 uses the idea of divide-and-conquer eigenvalue algorithms (Trefethen & Bau III 1997, Lecture 31).

There is an alternative way that does not explicitly use the eigenvalue decomposition.[24] Usually the singular value problem of a matrix   is converted into an equivalent symmetric eigenvalue problem such as     or


The approaches that use eigenvalue decompositions are based on the QR algorithm, which is well-developed to be stable and fast. Note that the singular values are real and right- and left- singular vectors are not required to form similarity transformations. One can iteratively alternate between the QR decomposition and the LQ decomposition to find the real diagonal Hermitian matrices. The QR decomposition gives   and the LQ decomposition of   gives   Thus, at every iteration, we have   update   and repeat the orthogonalizations. Eventually,[clarification needed] this iteration between QR decomposition and LQ decomposition produces left- and right- unitary singular matrices. This approach cannot readily be accelerated, as the QR algorithm can with spectral shifts or deflation. This is because the shift method is not easily defined without using similarity transformations. However, this iterative approach is very simple to implement, so is a good choice when speed does not matter. This method also provides insight into how purely orthogonal/unitary transformations can obtain the SVD.

Analytic result of 2 × 2 SVD


The singular values of a   matrix can be found analytically. Let the matrix be  

where   are complex numbers that parameterize the matrix,   is the identity matrix, and   denote the Pauli matrices. Then its two singular values are given by


Reduced SVDs

Visualization of Reduced SVD variants. From top to bottom: 1: Full SVD, 2: Thin SVD (remove columns of U not corresponding to rows of V*), 3: Compact SVD (remove vanishing singular values and corresponding columns/rows in U and V*), 4: Truncated SVD (keep only largest t singular values and corresponding columns/rows in U and V*)

In applications it is quite unusual for the full SVD, including a full unitary decomposition of the null-space of the matrix, to be required. Instead, it is often sufficient (as well as faster, and more economical for storage) to compute a reduced version of the SVD. The following can be distinguished for an   matrix   of rank  :

Thin SVD


The thin, or economy-sized, SVD of a matrix   is given by[25]


where   the matrices   and   contain only the first   columns of   and   and   contains only the first   singular values from   The matrix   is thus     is   diagonal, and   is  

The thin SVD uses significantly less space and computation time if   The first stage in its calculation will usually be a QR decomposition of   which can make for a significantly quicker calculation in this case.

Compact SVD


The compact SVD of a matrix   is given by


Only the   column vectors of   and   row vectors of   corresponding to the non-zero singular values   are calculated. The remaining vectors of   and   are not calculated. This is quicker and more economical than the thin SVD if   The matrix   is thus     is   diagonal, and   is  

Truncated SVD


In many applications the number   of the non-zero singular values is large making even the Compact SVD impractical to compute. In such cases, the smallest singular values may need to be truncated to compute only   non-zero singular values. The truncated SVD is no longer an exact decomposition of the original matrix   but rather provides the optimal low-rank matrix approximation   by any matrix of a fixed rank  


where matrix   is     is   diagonal, and   is   Only the   column vectors of   and   row vectors of   corresponding to the   largest singular values   are calculated. This can be much quicker and more economical than the compact SVD if   but requires a completely different toolset of numerical solvers.

In applications that require an approximation to the Moore–Penrose inverse of the matrix   the smallest singular values of   are of interest, which are more challenging to compute compared to the largest ones.

Truncated SVD is employed in latent semantic indexing.[26]



Ky Fan norms


The sum of the   largest singular values of   is a matrix norm, the Ky Fan  -norm of  [27]

The first of the Ky Fan norms, the Ky Fan 1-norm, is the same as the operator norm of   as a linear operator with respect to the Euclidean norms of   and   In other words, the Ky Fan 1-norm is the operator norm induced by the standard   Euclidean inner product. For this reason, it is also called the operator 2-norm. One can easily verify the relationship between the Ky Fan 1-norm and singular values. It is true in general, for a bounded operator   on (possibly infinite-dimensional) Hilbert spaces


But, in the matrix case,   is a normal matrix, so   is the largest eigenvalue of   i.e. the largest singular value of  

The last of the Ky Fan norms, the sum of all singular values, is the trace norm (also known as the 'nuclear norm'), defined by   (the eigenvalues of   are the squares of the singular values).

Hilbert–Schmidt norm


The singular values are related to another norm on the space of operators. Consider the Hilbert–Schmidt inner product on the   matrices, defined by