# The Geometry Of Least Squares

Here’s a simple and intuitive way of looking at the geometry of a least squares regression:

Take the bottom left point in the triangle below as the origin O. For the linear model:

$$Y=X\beta + \epsilon$$

Both $Y$ and $$X\beta$$ are vectors, and the residual vector $$\epsilon$$ is the difference. The standard least squares error technique uses $$\epsilon^2$$ or $$(Y-X\beta)^T(Y-X\beta)$$ as the error measure to be minimised, and this leads to the calculation of the $$\beta$$ coefficient vector.

Geometrically, the beta coefficients calculated by the least squares regression minimise the squared length of the error vector. This turns out to be the projection of $$Y$$ on to $$X\beta$$ – i.e. the perpendicular vector that turns (O, $$Y$$, $$X\beta$$) into a right-angled triangle.

The projection of $$Y$$ onto $$X\beta$$ is done using the projection matrix P, which is defined as

$P = X\left(X^{T}X\right)^{-1}X^{T}$

So $$X\beta = \hat{Y} = PY$$.

Using the Pythagorean theorem:

$$Y^TY = \hat{Y}^T\hat{Y} + (Y-X\beta)^T(Y-X\beta)$$

In other words, the total sum of squares = sum of squares due to regression + residual sum of squares. This is a fundamental part of analysis of variance techniques.