[Numpy-discussion] def of var of complex

Robert Kern robert.kern@gmail....
Tue Jan 8 23:12:38 CST 2008

Travis E. Oliphant wrote:
> Robert Kern wrote:
>> Neal Becker wrote:
>>> I noticed that if I generate complex rv i.i.d. with var=1, that numpy says:
>>> var (<real part>) -> (close to 1.0)
>>> var (<imag part>) -> (close to 1.0)
>>> but
>>> var (complex array) -> (close to complex 0)
>>> Is that not a strange definition?
>> 2. Take a slightly less naive formula for the variance which seems to show up in 
>> some texts:
>>    mean(absolute(z - mean(z)) ** 2)
>> This estimates the single parameter of a circular Gaussian over RR^2 
>> (interpreted as CC). It is also the trace of the covariance matrix above.
> I tend to favor this interpretation because it is used quite heavily in 
> signal processing applications where "circular" Gaussian random 
> variables show up quite a bit --- so much so, in fact, that most EE 
> folks would expect this as the output and you would have to explain to 
> them why there may be other choices that make sense.  
> So, #2 is kind of a nod to the signal-processing community (especially 
> the communication section).

<sigh> Fair enough. I relent. You implement it; I'll document the correct^Wcov() 
alternative.  :-)

> But, there is also merit to me in #3 (although it may be harder to 
> explain why the variance returns a complex number --- if that is what 
> you meant).


Robert Kern

"I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma
  that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had
  an underlying truth."
   -- Umberto Eco

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