# Orthogonal Projection Operators

Recall from the Orthogonal Complements page that if $U$ is a subset of an inner product space $V$, then the orthogonal complement of $U$ denoted $U^{\perp}$ is the set of vectors $v \in V$ such that $v$ is orthogonal to every vector $u \in U$, that is $U^{\perp} = \{ v \in V :

In such cases, for all vectors $v \in V$ we can write $v$ uniquely as the sum of a vector $u \in U$ and a vector $w \in U^{\perp}$:

(1)

Now consider the linear operator $P_U \in \mathcal L(V)$ defined such that $P_U(v) = u$ for all $v \in V$. Then $P_U$ is a Projection Operator which we could alternatively denote as $P_U = P_{U, U^{\perp}}$. More specifically, $P_U$ is an orthogonal projection operator.

Definition: Let $V$ be an inner product space and let $U$ be a subspace of $V$ such that $V = U \oplus U^{\perp}$. Then for all $v \in V$ we have that $v = u + w$ where $u \in U$ and $w \in U^{\perp}$. The the Orthogonal Projection Operator of $V$ onto $U$ is the linear operator $P_U \in \mathcal L (V)$ defined such that $P_U(v) = u$ for all $v \in V$. |

The following proposition outlines some of the important properties of orthogonal projection operators.

Proposition 1: Let $V$ be an inner product space and let $U$ be a subspace of $V$ such that $V = U \oplus U^{\perp}$. Then for the projection operator $P_U \in \mathcal L(V)$ we have that:a) $\mathrm{range} (P_U) = U$.b) $\mathrm{null} (P_U) = U^{\perp}$.c) $(v – P_U(v)) \in U^{\perp}$ for all $v \in V$.d) $P_U^2 = P_U$.e) $\| P_U(v) \| ≤ \| v \|$ for all $v \in V$. |

**Proof of a)**We have that $P_U = P_{U, U^{\perp}}$ and it follows immediately from the proof on the Projection Operators page that $\mathrm{range} (P_U) = U$.

**Proof of b)**We have that $P_U = P_{U, U^{\perp}}$ and it follows immediately from the proof on the page mentioned above that $\mathrm{null} (P_U) = U^{\perp}$.

**Proof of c)**Let $v \in V$ be written as $v = u + w$ where $u \in U$ and $w \in U^{\perp}$. Then $w = v – u = v – P_U(v)$, so clearly $(v – P_U(v)) \in U^{\perp}$.

**Proof of d)**Let $v \in V$ be written as $v = u + w$. Then $P_u(v) = u$. Note that $u \in V$ and so $u = u + 0$ where $u \in U$ and $0 \in U^{\perp}$. This is the only way to write $u$ as the sum of vectors from $U$ and $U^{\perp}$ since $V = U \oplus U^{\perp}$. So applying the operator again and we have that $P_U^2 (v) = P_U(u) = u = P_U(v)$. Thus $P_U^2 = P_U$.

**Proof of e)**Let $v \in V$ be written as $v = u + w$. Noting that $u$ is orthogonal to $w$, we can apply the Pythagorean Theorem by taking the norm squared of both sides and we have that:

(2)

- If we square root both sides we get that $\| P_U(v) \| ≤ \| v \|$ as desired.