# eigenvector

Also found in: Dictionary, Acronyms, Wikipedia.

## eigenvector

[′ī·gən‚vek·tər]*v*whose direction is not changed by a given linear transformation

*T*; that is,

*T*(

*v*) = λ

*v*for some scalar λ. Also known as characteristic vector.

## Eigenvector

(or characteristic vector). An eigenvector of a linear transformation is a vector that does not change direction under the transformation and is simply multiplied by a scalar. For example, the eigenvectors of a transformation composed of rotations about some axis and of contraction toward the plane perpendicular to the axis are vectors directed along the axis.

The coordinates *x*_{1}*x*_{2},..., *x*_{n} of the eigenvectors of a transformation of *n*-dimensional space with the matrix ║*a*_{ik}║ satisfy the system of homogeneous linear equations

where λ is an eigenvalue of the matrix. If the matrix of a transformation is Hermitian, then the eigenvectors are mutually perpendicular. As a result of a Hermitian transformation, a sphere becomes an ellipsoid whose major axes are eigenvectors of the transformation.

## eigenvector

(mathematics)It should be noted that "vector" here means "element of a vector space" which can include many mathematical entities. Ordinary vectors are elements of a vector space, and multiplication by a matrix is a linear transformation on them; smooth functions "are vectors", and many partial differential operators are linear transformations on the space of such functions; quantum-mechanical states "are vectors", and observables are linear transformations on the state space.

An important theorem says, roughly, that certain linear transformations have enough eigenvectors that they form a basis of the whole vector states. This is why Fourier analysis works, and why in quantum mechanics every state is a superposition of eigenstates of observables.

An eigenvector is a (representative member of a) fixed point of the map on the projective plane induced by a linear map.