Frobenius Covariant
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Frobenius Covariant

In matrix theory, the Frobenius covariants of a square matrix A are special polynomials of it, namely projection matrices Ai associated with the eigenvalues and eigenvectors of A.[1]:pp.403,437-8 They are named after the mathematician Ferdinand Frobenius.

Each covariant is a projection on the eigenspace associated with the eigenvalue ?i. Frobenius covariants are the coefficients of Sylvester's formula, which expresses a function of a matrix f(A) as a matrix polynomial, namely a linear combination of that function's values on the eigenvalues of A.

Formal definition

Let A be a diagonalizable matrix with eigenvalues ?1, …, ?k.

The Frobenius covariant Ai, for i = 1,…, k, is the matrix

It is essentially the Lagrange polynomial with matrix argument. If the eigenvalue ?i is simple, then as an idempotent projection matrix to a one-dimensional subspace, Ai has a unit trace.

Computing the covariants

Ferdinand Georg Frobenius (1849-1917), German mathematician. His main interests were elliptic functions differential equations, and later group theory.

The Frobenius covariants of a matrix A can be obtained from any eigendecomposition A = SDS-1, where S is non-singular and D is diagonal with Di,i = ?i. If A has no multiple eigenvalues, then let ci be the ith right eigenvector of A, that is, the ith column of S; and let ri be the ith left eigenvector of A, namely the ith row of S-1. Then Ai = ciri.

If A has an eigenvalue ?i appear multiple times, then Ai = ?jcjrj, where the sum is over all rows and columns associated with the eigenvalue ?i.[1]:p.521


Consider the two-by-two matrix:

This matrix has two eigenvalues, 5 and -2; hence (A-5)(A+2)=0.

The corresponding eigen decomposition is

Hence the Frobenius covariants, manifestly projections, are


Note trA1=trA2=1, as required.


  1. ^ a b Roger A. Horn and Charles R. Johnson (1991), Topics in Matrix Analysis. Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-46713-1

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