What can be said about the following distribution:

$$P\left(\left.\sum_{i=1}^{N}X_{i}\ \right|\ \sum_{i=1}^{N}X_{i}^{2}\right)\quad ?$$

That is, I observe the sum of squared $X$'s and want to do inference on the sum of $X$'s. The fact that $f\left(x\right)=x^{2}$ is not injective makes it complicated.

So basically what I am asking is:

  1. Can I get an analytical expression for $P\left(\left.\sum_{i=1}^{N}X_{i}\ \right|\ \sum_{i=1}^{N}X_{i}^{2}\right)$?
  2. Can I evaluate $P\left(\left.\sum_{i=1}^{N}X_{i}\ \right|\ \sum_{i=1}^{N}X_{i}^{2}\right)$?
  3. Do I know something about the moments of $P\left(\left.\sum_{i=1}^{N}X_{i}\ \right|\ \sum_{i=1}^{N}X_{i}^{2}\right)$ or anything else?
  • $\begingroup$ Have you tried writing down $$P\left(\sum_{i=1}^Nx_i\bigg|\sum_{i=1}^Nx_i^2\right)=\frac{P\left(\sum_{i=1}^Nx_i\times\sum_{i=1}^Nx_i^2\right)}{P\left(\sum_{i=1}^Nx_i^2\right)}$$ $\endgroup$ – user30490 Sep 2 '15 at 14:34
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You should mention that you also simultaneously posted this same question at math.stackexchange.com/questions/1418333/…. $\endgroup$ – JimB Sep 2 '15 at 15:00
  • $\begingroup$ @user30490: I am afraid this formula makes little sense for continuous variables... $\endgroup$ – Xi'an Sep 2 '15 at 15:10
  • $\begingroup$ I suggest starting from the joint distribution of $(\sum_i X_i,\sum_i (X_i-\bar{X})^2)$ and from $\sum_I X_i^2=\sum_I (X_i-\bar{X})^2+n\bar{X}^2$. $\endgroup$ – Xi'an Sep 2 '15 at 15:13
  • $\begingroup$ It is worth noting that the sums are uncorrelated. $\endgroup$ – JohnK Sep 2 '15 at 15:26

$Y^2 = \sum X_i^2$ is invariant under rotations. Therefore $(X_1/Y, \ldots, X_n/Y)$ is uniformly distributed on the unit sphere. Consequently the distribution of any linear combination

$$a_1 X_1 + a_2 X_2 + \cdots + a_n X_n = a Y \left(\frac{a_1}{a}\frac{X_1}{Y} + \cdots + \frac{a_n}{a}\frac{X_n}{Y}\right) = a Y Z,$$

with $a^2 = a_1^2 + a_2^2 + \cdots + a_n^2$, is the same as the distribution of any other linear combination with the same value of $aY$. For convenience, take $a_1=a_2=\cdots=a_{n-1}=0$ and $a_n=1$. To find the distribution of $Z$, we must therefore study the distribution of $X_n$ given that $(X_1,\ldots, X_n)$ lies on the unit sphere $S^{n-1}$ in $\mathbb{R}^n$.

The density between $X_n = h$ and $X_n = h+dh$ will be proportional to the volume of the infinitesimal band on $S^{n-1}$ between heights $h$ and $h+dh$. This band is a frustum of a circular cone with radii ranging from $(1-h^2)^{1/2}$ to $(1 - (h+dh)^2)^{1/2}$. It therefore has an $n-1$-dimensional content proportional to

$$f(h) = \frac{dh}{(1-h^2)^{1/2}}((1-h^2)^{1/2})^{n-2} + O(dh^2).$$

This is recognizable as a Beta$((n-1)/2, (n-1)/2)$ density that has been recentered at $0$ and scaled to be supported on $[-1,1]$. Consequently, $\sum X_i$ itself is $aY$ times that distribution.

Simulations in R bear out this result. For each of several values of $n$, a vector $a$ was randomly generated and then $10,000$ independent realizations of $\sum_{i=1}^n a_i X_i$ were created. For each of these, $Z$ was computed and summarized with a histogram. Over these histograms are drawn the claimed density function (of the rescaled, recentered Beta distribution). The agreement is excellent.


N <- 1e4
par(mfcol=c(3, 4))
for (n in c(2, 3, 5, 10)) {
  for (i in 1:3) {
    a <- rnorm(n)
    x <- matrix(rnorm(n*N), n, N)
    y <- apply(x, 2, function(y) sqrt(sum(y^2)))
    z <- ((a / sqrt(sum(a^2))) %*% x) / y

    hist(z, freq=FALSE, breaks=seq(-1,1,length.out=41), main=paste("n =", n))
    curve((1-x^2)^((n-3)/2)/(2^(n-2) * beta((n-1)/2, (n-1)/2)), col="Red", lwd=2, add=TRUE)

I see @whuber beat me to the punch, but for posterity... You should be able to obtain an analyical expression this pretty easily using Bayes Law.

1) You already have $P\left( \sum_i X_i = Y \right)$

2) You should be able to calculate $P\left( \sum_i X_i^2 = Z \right)$. This is an integral over a spherical shell, which may seem daunting, but luckily the density is constant on that shell, so it should be the area of that shell times the density.

3) $P\left( \mathbf{X} | \sum_i X_i = Y \right)$ is a "slice" of a multivariate normal distribution by a hyperplane and is therefore another multivariate normal distribution. Similarly to in (2) you can then compute $P\left( \sum_i X_i^2 = Z | \sum_i X_i = Y \right)$.

So if "the frustum of a circular cone" scares you off, try answering (1), (2), and (3).

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It's a nice summary. I felt obliged to give that "frustum" description for otherwise an interesting pitfall is lurking: the density has to account for the slope of the cross-section. The case $n=2$ is illustrative, for then $S^{n-1}$ is the unit circle and these "shells" are pairs of line segments near the coordinates $(\pm\sqrt{1-h^2},h)$. If we were to ignore those slopes, we might conclude incorrectly that the density is constant and therefore uniform (a Beta$(1,1)$ distribution). BTW, how does Bayes' Theorem apply? It seems we only need basic definitions of conditional probability. $\endgroup$ – whuber Sep 2 '15 at 15:57
  • $\begingroup$ You don't need Bayes theorem. But when I originally looked at this question I just though, I wish it was the other way around. Conditioning on a linear condition would be much simpler. So that's how it occurred to me. As for the "frustum" bit, your answers are wonderfully comprehensive, and I think understanding this problem geometrically makes life much simpler. $\endgroup$ – jlimahaverford Sep 3 '15 at 0:01

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