# Normalizing weight vector of a linear SVM

From what I've learned, training a (hard-margin) linear SVM on training data gives weights $$w$$ and intercept $$b$$ such that it forms hyperplane $$\{x: x^Tw + b = 0\}$$- this is the hyperplane that maximizes the margin between linearly separable data. Additionally, $$w$$ and $$b$$ are formed such that $$\{x: x^Tw + b = -1\}$$ and $$\{x: x^Tw + b = 1\}$$ give the two margin hyperplanes that each intersect with at least 1 support vector point.

However, I've read from many sources that the weights vector $$w$$ is supposed to be a unit vector ($$||w|| = 1$$). I'm confused on why/when this is necessary. Isn't the margin width specifically calculated by $$\frac{2}{||w||}$$? The width of the margin can't always be 2?

For example, take these set of points below, which each have two features $$x_1, x_2$$: The bold line is the max-margin hyperplane represented by $$w = [\frac{1}{4}, -\frac{1}{4}], \alpha=-\frac{3}{4}$$.

Of course, $$w$$ here is normal to the hyperplane, but is not a unit vector. What information would normalizing $$w$$ give us?

• Can you link to some of these "many sources" which claim that $w$ needs to be a unit vector? – Igor F. Mar 31 at 15:26