I wish to find the distribution of $\hat{y}=Hy$ where $H$ is the hat matrix $X(X'X)^{-1}X'$ in which a dash represents the transpose. Also, $\epsilon$ is $N(0, \sigma^2)$ distributed.


  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, I have updated the question. $\endgroup$
    – Janitt
    Jan 6, 2020 at 13:57

2 Answers 2



  1. We are talking about a linear regression model
  2. $X$ is not random


$$y = X\beta + \epsilon$$ $$\hat{y} = Hy = X(X'X)^{-1}X'X\beta + H\epsilon$$ $$\implies \hat{y} \sim N(X\beta ,H\sigma^2)$$

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Nice answer! Readers may want to know that 1) this answer uses the identity $H^2 = H$ to simplify the covariance and 2) the covariance matrix you gave is singular unless the regression has enough degrees of freedom to fit the data exactly. Thus, you can't just plug it into the typical multivariate Gaussian PDF, because that uses a determinant, which is 0. $\endgroup$ Jan 6, 2020 at 14:34
  • $\begingroup$ Hello, why is variance of $H$ equal to $H$? $\endgroup$
    – user274779
    Apr 2, 2021 at 3:03

You have the assumption that the errors are multivariate normal $\epsilon \sim \mathcal MVN(0,\Sigma)$, where the errors is the complete vector $\epsilon = (\epsilon_1,...,\epsilon_N)$ assuming that there are $N$ observations. In some cases observations will be independent hence the covariance matrix does not need to allow for serial correlation hence all off-diagonal terms will be 0. In this case $\Sigma$ is then a diagonal matrix with the terms in the diagonal potentially varying allowing for heteroscedasticity. Under what is sometimes referred to as classical errors $\Sigma = \sigma^2 I_N$ all diagonal terms are the same and the errors are therefore all independent and identically distributed normal $\mathcal N(0,\sigma^2)$.

Nevertheless in any case if $\epsilon$ is $\mathcal MVN(\mu,\Sigma)$ then $A\epsilon$ is $\mathcal MVN(A\mu,A\Sigma A^\top)$ where $A$ is a constant matrix. Using this property consider linear regression model $y = X\beta + \epsilon$ in matrix version and premultiply with the hat matrix $H$ to get

$$\hat y = Hy = HX\beta + H\epsilon = X\beta + H\epsilon$$

Considering $X$ to be a constant matrix $X\beta$ is a constant vector simply changing the mean of the distribution of $H\epsilon$. The distribution of $H\epsilon$ is found simply by applying the above stated rule saying that because $\epsilon$ is mutivariate normal the linear transform $H\epsilon$ will also be multivariate normal and the mean is $\mathbb E[X\epsilon] = X \mathbb E[\epsilon] =\mathbf 0$ adding $X\beta$ therefore implies that $\mathbb E[X\beta + H\epsilon]= X\beta$.

The variance is $H Var(\epsilon) H^\top = H \Sigma H^\top$. In the case where $\Sigma = \sigma^2I_N$ the expression for the variance reduces significantly to

$$H \Sigma H^\top = H \sigma^2I_N H^\top = \sigma^2 HH^\top = \sigma^2H$$

using idempotency and symmetry of $H$. The result is therefore

$$\hat y = X\beta + H\epsilon \sim \mathcal {MVN}(X\beta,H \Sigma H^\top )$$

and under assumption of classical errors (independence and homoscedasticity) this simplifies to

$$\hat y = X\beta + H\epsilon \sim \mathcal {MVN}(X\beta,\sigma^2H)$$

where $I_N$ is $N \times N$ identity matrix.


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