I want to do multiple linear regression as explained on this Wikipedia site: I am given the following data: $$ yx=(~(y_1,x_{11},\ldots,x_{1p}),\ldots, (y_n,x_{n1},\ldots,x_{np})~) $$ of $n$-many samples where for each sample $(y_i,x_{i_1},\ldots,x_{ip})$ the variable $y_i\in\mathbb{R}$ is ''dependent'' (the ''dependent variable'') from $x_{i_1},\ldots,x_{ip} \in\mathbb{R}$. We want to find a hyperplane in $\mathbb{R}^{n+1}$ through these points as one does in (multiple/multivariate) linear regression and as it is explained e.g. here on Wikipedia.

How good or bad such a hyperplane describes the points of the sample is measured e.g. by the $R^2$-factor or ''coefficient of determination''. This is, as explained here on Wikipedia, defined as $$ R^2 = 1-\frac{SS_{res}}{SS_{tot}} $$ where the values $SS_{res}$ and $SS_{tot}$ depend on the data as explained on the linked Wikipedia-page. (As the notation with the square does not suggest, this may take values in $(-\infty,1]$. If $\bar y=\frac{1}{n}\sum y_i=0$, then this may be equally defined as $R^2=\frac{SS_{reg}}{SS_{tot}}\in[0,1]$.)

My problem is as follows: There is another definition of $R^2$ - call it temporarily $R_2^2$ - which is given by $$ R^2_2 = (r_{1y},\ldots, r_{py}) \begin{pmatrix} r_{11}=1 & \cdots & r_{1p}\\ \vdots & \ddots & \vdots\\ r_p1 & \cdots & r_{pp}=1 \end{pmatrix}^{-1}\begin{pmatrix}r_{1y}\\\vdots\\r_{py}\end{pmatrix} $$ where the $(p\times p)$-matrix in the middle is called the correlation matrix with $$ r_{ij} = \frac{s_{ij}}{s_{i}s_{j}}\quad\quad\text{and}\quad\quad r_{iy} = \frac{s_{iy}}{s_{i}s_{y}} $$ the respective correlation coefficients with respective sample variances $$ s_{ij} = \frac{1}{n-1}\sum_{k=1}^n (x_{ki}-\bar{x_{\bullet i}})(x_{kj}-\bar{x_{\bullet j}})\quad\text{and}\quad s_{i} = \sqrt{s_{ii}} \quad\text{and}\quad s_{iy} = \frac{1}{n-1}\sum_{k=1}^n (x_{ki}-\bar{x_{\bullet i}})(y_{k}-\bar{y}) \quad\text{etc.} $$

Are these numbers $R^2$ and $R^2_2$ the same and, if yes, why? Thank you! (I would prefer a linear-algebra-argument without involving probability theory and distributions, etc. - everything is empirical and given here.)

  • $\begingroup$ Where does you second $R_2^2$ definition come from and who stated it should be identical to the standard $R^2$? By the way, there is some serious typo in the statement about the intercept-free $R^2$ -- the $1 - SSE/SST$ and $SSR/SST$ definitions coincide when there IS an intercept, your claim is just opposite. $\endgroup$
    – Zhanxiong
    Nov 14, 2023 at 17:39
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your comment. I'll look it up where I found the second Definition. With "is/is not an intercept" i mean that the definitions coincide if $\bar y=0$ where $\bar y$ is the sample mean from the given data. This is what comes our of my calculations. $\endgroup$
    – mrpotato
    Nov 14, 2023 at 18:05
  • $\begingroup$ Here is the reference: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… $\endgroup$
    – mrpotato
    Nov 14, 2023 at 18:22
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Dear @picky_porpoise, thanks for your comment. I am sorry but where does the Wikipedia article state that they are not the same - and in which specific case are they? I cannot find it... $\endgroup$
    – mrpotato
    Nov 14, 2023 at 21:06
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @mrpotato Not relevant to your main question, but I still want to point out that $\bar{y} = 0$ does not make $1 - SSE/SST = SSR/SST$ if the regression model does not contain an intercept term. You may check this answer to understand why is so. The key observation is that $SSR/SST$ is always non-negative but $1 - SSE/SST$ could be negative when the model is intercept-free, even the data satisfies $\bar{y} = 0$. $\endgroup$
    – Zhanxiong
    Nov 15, 2023 at 5:07

2 Answers 2


A good question. I have to confess that I haven't seen the second expression of $R^2$ before (on the other hand, the better-known result that in simple linear regression, $R^2$ is the squared Pearson correlation between the response and the predictor is clearly a corollary of this statement), but here goes the (long) proof:

To clarify, I am assuming you have $p$ regressors (excluding the intercept term), hence in matrix form, the model of your interest (by convention, a linear model contains an intercept $e$ of all ones) is: \begin{align*} Y := \begin{bmatrix} y_1 \\ y_2 \\ \vdots \\ y_n \end{bmatrix} = \begin{bmatrix} e & x_1 & x_2 & \cdots & x_p \end{bmatrix}\beta + \varepsilon := \begin{bmatrix} e & \tilde{X}\end{bmatrix}\begin{bmatrix} \beta_0 \\ \gamma \end{bmatrix} + \varepsilon, \tag{1}\label{1} \end{align*} where $x_j = \begin{bmatrix} x_{1j} & \cdots & x_{nj}\end{bmatrix}^\top$, $j = 1, \ldots, p$, $\beta_0 \in \mathbb{R}$ is the coefficient corresponding to $e$, $\gamma \in \mathbb{R}^p$ is the coefficient corresponding to $\tilde{X} = \begin{bmatrix} x_1 & \cdots & x_p\end{bmatrix} \in \mathbb{R}^{n \times p}$.

The form of your proposed $R_2^2$ inspires me considering the following form of the regression model (known as Standardized Multiple Regression Model, see Applied Linear Statistical Models by Kutner et al., Section 7.5) -- this is how I managed to bring all the Pearson correlations to the party: \begin{align*} Y^* = X^*\beta^* + \varepsilon^*, \tag{2}\label{2} \end{align*} where \begin{align*} & Y^* = \begin{bmatrix} \frac{y_1 - \bar{y}}{\sqrt{n - 1}s_Y} \\ \vdots \\ \frac{y_n - \bar{y}}{\sqrt{n - 1}s_Y} \end{bmatrix} = (\sqrt{n - 1}s_Y)^{-1}(I - n^{-1}ee^\top)Y \in \mathbb{R}^{n \times 1}, \tag{3.1}\label{3.1} \\ & X^* = \begin{bmatrix} \frac{x_1 - \bar{x}_1e}{\sqrt{n - 1}s_1} & \cdots & \frac{x_p - \bar{x}_pe}{\sqrt{n - 1}s_p} \end{bmatrix} = (I - n^{-1}ee^\top)\tilde{X}(\sqrt{n - 1}\Lambda)^{-1} \in \mathbb{R}^{n \times p}, \tag{3.2}\label{3.2} \\ & \bar{y} = \frac{1}{n}\sum_{i = 1}^ny_i, \; s_Y^2 = \frac{1}{n - 1}\sum_{i = 1}^n(y_i - \bar{y})^2, \tag{3.3}\label{3.3} \\ & \bar{x}_j = n^{-1}\sum_{i = 1}^n x_{ij}, \; s_j^2 = \frac{1}{n - 1}\sum_{i = 1}^n(x_{ij} - \bar{x}_j)^2, \; j = 1, \ldots, p, \tag{3.4}\label{3.4} \\ & \Lambda = \operatorname{diag}(s_1, \ldots, s_p) \in \mathbb{R}^{p \times p}. \tag{3.5}\label{3.5} \end{align*} In words, $Y^*$ and $X^*$ are simply standardized versions of original inputs $Y$ and $\tilde{X}$.

With the above notations, on one hand, it is easy to verify that \begin{align*} r_{YX} := \begin{bmatrix} r_{Y, x_1} \\ \vdots \\ r_{Y, x_p} \end{bmatrix} = X^{*\top}Y^*, \quad r_{XX} := \begin{bmatrix} r_{x_i, x_j} \end{bmatrix} = X^{*\top}X^*, \tag{4}\label{4} \end{align*} hence \begin{align*} \hat{\beta^*} = (X^{*\top}X^*)^{-1}X^{*\top}Y^* = r_{XX}^{-1}r_{YX}. \end{align*}

On the other hand, one can express the OLS estimate of $\beta$ in $\eqref{1}$ in terms of the OLS estimate of $\beta^*$ in $\eqref{2}$ as follows (this is easy to verify by substituting transformation definitions $\eqref{3.1}$ -- $\eqref{3.5}$ into $\eqref{2}$ then compare it with $\eqref{1}$, see also the aforementioned reference for derivation details): \begin{align*} & \hat{\gamma} = s_Y\Lambda^{-1}\hat{\beta^*} = s_Y\Lambda^{-1}r_{XX}^{-1}r_{YX}, \tag{5.1}\label{5.1} \\ & \hat{\beta}_0 = \bar{Y} - \begin{bmatrix}\bar{x}_1 & \cdots & \bar{x}_p \end{bmatrix}\hat{\gamma} = n^{-1}e^\top Y - n^{-1}e^\top \tilde{X}\hat{\gamma}. \tag{5.2}\label{5.2} \end{align*}

It then follows by $\eqref{5.1}, \eqref{5.2}, \eqref{3.1}, \eqref{3.2}$ that \begin{align*} & Y - \hat{Y} = Y - e\hat{\beta}_0 - \tilde{X}\hat{\gamma} \\ =& (I - n^{-1}ee^\top)Y - (I - n^{-1}ee^\top)\tilde{X}\hat{\gamma} \\ =& s_Y\sqrt{n - 1}Y^* - s_Y\sqrt{n - 1}X^*r_{XX}^{-1}r_{YX}, \end{align*} whence by $\eqref{4}$ we conclude \begin{align*} & (Y - \hat{Y})^\top(Y - \hat{Y}) \\ =& (n - 1)s_Y^2 Y^{*\top}Y^* - 2(n - 1)s_Y^2Y^{*\top}X^{*}r_{XX}^{-1}r_{YX} + (n - 1)s_Y^2r_{YX}^\top r_{XX}^{-1}X^{*\top}X^*r_{XX}^{-1}r_{YX} \\ =& (n - 1)s_Y^2(Y^{*\top}Y^* - r_{YX}^\top r_{XX}^{-1}r_{YX}). \tag{6}\label{6} \end{align*} It then follows by $\eqref{6}$ and the definition of $R^2$ that \begin{align*} & R^2 = 1 - \frac{(Y - \hat{Y})^\top(Y - \hat{Y})}{Y^\top (I - n^{-1}ee^\top)Y} \\ =& 1 - \frac{(n - 1)s_Y^2(Y^{*\top}Y^* - r_{YX}^\top r_{XX}^{-1}r_{YX})}{(n - 1)s_Y^2 Y^{*\top}Y^*} \\ =& r_{YX}^\top r_{XX}^{-1}r_{YX}. \end{align*} In the last equality, we used the identity $Y^{*\top}Y^* = 1$ (which follows from $\eqref{3.1}$ and $\eqref{3.3}$). This completes the proof.


Per OP's request, below is a more detailed derivation of $\eqref{5.1}$ and $\eqref{5.2}$.

By model $\eqref{1}$, we have \begin{align*} \begin{bmatrix} \hat{\beta}_0 \\ \hat{\gamma} \end{bmatrix} = \begin{bmatrix} n & e^\top\tilde{X} \\ \tilde{X}^\top e & \tilde{X}^\top\tilde{X} \end{bmatrix}^{-1} \begin{bmatrix} e^\top Y \\ \tilde{X}^\top Y \end{bmatrix}. \tag{A.1}\label{A.1} \end{align*} Denote the matrix $\tilde{X}^\top(I - n^{-1}ee^\top)\tilde{X}$ by $C$, which by $\eqref{3.2}$ is equal to $(n - 1)\Lambda X^{*\top}X^*\Lambda$. It follows by the block matrix inversion formula that \begin{align*} \begin{bmatrix} n & e^\top\tilde{X} \\ \tilde{X}^\top e & \tilde{X}^\top\tilde{X} \end{bmatrix}^{-1} = \begin{bmatrix} n^{-1} + n^{-2}e^\top\tilde{X}C^{-1}\tilde{X}^\top e & -n^{-1}e^\top\tilde{X}C^{-1} \\ -n^{-1}C^{-1}\tilde{X}^\top e & C^{-1} \end{bmatrix}. \tag{A.2}\label{A.2} \end{align*}

Substituting $\eqref{A.2}$ into $\eqref{A.1}$ and using the idempotency of the matrix $I - n^{-1}ee^\top$ (also plugging definitions $\eqref{3.1}$ and $\eqref{3.2}$) then give \begin{align*} & \hat{\gamma} = -n^{-1}C^{-1}\tilde{X}^\top ee^\top Y + C^{-1}\tilde{X}^\top Y \\ =& C^{-1}\tilde{X}^\top(I - n^{-1}ee^\top)Y \\ =& C^{-1}((I - n^{-1}ee^\top)\tilde{X})^\top (I - n^{-1}ee^\top)Y \\ =& (n - 1)^{-1}\Lambda^{-1}(X^{*\top}X^*)^{-1}\Lambda^{-1}(\sqrt{n - 1}X^*\Lambda)^\top \sqrt{n - 1}s_YY^* \\ =& s_Y\Lambda^{-1}(X^{*\top}X^*)^{-1}X^{*\top}Y^* \\ =& s_Y\Lambda^{-1}\hat{\beta^*}. \\[1em] & \hat{\beta}_0 = n^{-1}e^\top Y + n^{-2}e^\top \tilde{X}C^{-1}\tilde{X}^\top ee^\top Y - n^{-1}e^\top\tilde{X}C^{-1}\tilde{X}^\top Y \\ =& n^{-1}e^\top Y - n^{-1}e^\top\tilde{X}(-n^{-1}C^{-1}\tilde{X}^\top ee^\top Y + C^{-1}\tilde{X}^\top Y) \\ =& n^{-1}e^\top Y - n^{-1}e^\top\tilde{X}\hat{\gamma}, \end{align*} which are exactly $\eqref{5.1}$ and $\eqref{5.2}$.

  • $\begingroup$ Dear Zhanxiong, thanks again for your wonderful answer! I still don't understand how to get (5.1) and (5.2) where you said "easy to verify" and "see also the aforementioned reference for derivation details". Could you please give me more details on that? Thank you very much! By the way: Is there a (-)^2 missing in the last math-paragraph after R^2 in the denomiator between Y^T and Y? $\endgroup$
    – mrpotato
    Nov 20, 2023 at 18:45
  • $\begingroup$ @mrpotato To your second question, no -- just expand $Y^\top(I - n^{-1}ee^\top)Y$ and you will find it is equal to $\sum_{i = 1}^n(y_i - \bar{y})^2$. The denominator is a standard quadratic form which gives you all the squared terms. To your first question, I could add more details when I get more time. $\endgroup$
    – Zhanxiong
    Nov 20, 2023 at 18:51
  • $\begingroup$ I would appreciate that very much. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – mrpotato
    Nov 20, 2023 at 19:00
  • $\begingroup$ @mrpotato Added more details. Please take time to digest it (there are indeed quite heavy matrix operations in the whole proof). $\endgroup$
    – Zhanxiong
    Nov 20, 2023 at 19:49
  • $\begingroup$ Wow, thanks, I will study it. By the way, the "idempotency of the matrix" $I-n^{-1}ee^T$ as you say seem to clarify my problem of the square from the previous comment. Thanks. $\endgroup$
    – mrpotato
    Nov 20, 2023 at 20:13

Different Formulations of $R^2$

Seems that Zhanxiong has provided a direct answer already (+1).

Interestingly, I just came across a paper which discusses several versions of $R^2$ formulas that appear in scientific papers and their potential limitations given their definitions (particularly for nonlinear models). The versions they outline include ($y$ here being the outcome variable and $e$ here being the residuals):

\begin{align} R^2_1 &= \sum(y-\hat{y})^2/\sum(y-\bar{y})^2 \\ R^2_2 &= \sum(\hat{y}-\bar{y})^2/\sum(y-\bar{y})^2 \\ R^2_3 &= \sum(y-\bar{\hat{y}})^2/\sum(y-\bar{y})^2 \\ R^2_4 &= 1 - \sum(e-\bar{e})^2/\sum(y-\bar{y})^2 \\ R^2_5 &= 1 - \sum(y-\hat{y})^2/\sum y^2 \\ R^2_6 &= \sum \hat{y} ^2 /\sum y^2 \end{align}

The paper goes into discussion about how these may vary based on the condition of model fitting. For example, the last two listed here seem to be more useful for no-intercept models, while the others can be used for intercept models. However, they are no directly comparable, for reasons outlined in the paper.

For more details, check out the reference below.


Kvålseth, T. O. (1985). Cautionary note about R2. The American Statistician, 39(4), 279–285. https://doi.org/10.1080/00031305.1985.10479448


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