3 Operations on Hilbert spaces
5 Orthogonal complements and projections
Table of contents 

Introduction
Every inner product <.,.> on a real or complex vector space H gives rise to a norm . as follows:
All finitedimensional inner product spaces (such as Euclidean space with the ordinary dot product) are Hilbert spaces. However, the infinitedimensional examples are much more important in applications. These applications include:
 The theory of unitary group representations;
 The theory of square integrable stochastic processes;
 The Hilbert space theory of partial differential equations, in particular formulations of the Dirichlet problem;
 Spectral analysis of functions, including theories of wavelets.
 Mathematical formulations of quantum mechanics.
One goal of Fourier analysis is to write a given function as a (possibly infinite) sum of multiples of given base functions. This problem can be studied abstractly in Hilbert spaces: every Hilbert space has an orthonormal basis, and every element of the Hilbert space can be written in a unique way as a sum of multiples of these base elements.
Hilbert spaces were named after David Hilbert, who studied them in the context of integral equations. The origin of the designation, however is unclear, but it was already used by Hermann Weyl in his famous book The Theory of Groups and Quantum Mechanics published in 1931. John von Neumann was perhaps the mathematician who most clearly recognized their importance.
Examples
In these examples, we will assume the underlying field of scalars is C, although the definitions apply to the case the underlying field of scalars is R.
Euclidean spaces
C^{n} with the inner product definition where the bar of a complex number denotes its complex conjugation.
Sequence spaces
Much more typical are the infinite dimensional Hilbert spaces however. If B is any set, we define little l^{2} over B, denoted by This space becomes a Hilbert space with the inner product
 for all x and y in l^{2}(B). B does not have to be a countable set in this definition, although if B is not countable, the resulting Hilbert space is not separable. In a sense made more precise below, every Hilbert space is isomorphic to one the form l^{2}(B) for a suitable set B. If B=N, we write simply l^{2}.
Lebesgue spaces
These are functions spaces associated to measure spaces (X, M, μ), where M is a σalgebra of subsets of X and μ is a countably additive measure on M. Let L^{2}_{μ}(X) be the space of complexvalued squareintegrable measurable functions on X, modulo the subspace of those functions whose square integral is zero, or equivalently that are equal to zero almost everywhere. Square integrable means the integral of the square of its absolute value is finite. Modulo equality almost everywhere means functions are identified if and only if they are equal outside of a set of measure 0.The inner product of functions f and g is here given by
 One needs to show

 That this integral indeed makes sense;
 The resulting space is complete.
Operations on Hilbert spaces
 Given two (or more) Hilbert spaces, we can combine them into a big Hilbert space by taking their direct sum or their tensor product.
Bases
An important concept is that of an orthonormal basis of a Hilbert space H: this is a family {e_{k}}_{k ∈ B} of H satisfying: # Elements are normalized: Every element of the family has norm 1: e_{k} = 1 for all k in B # Elements are orthogonal: Every two different elements of B are orthogonal: <e_{k}, e_{j}> = 0 for all k, j in B with k ≠ j. # Dense span: The linear span of B is dense in H.
We also use the expressions orthonormal sequence and orthonormal set.
Examples of orthonormal bases include:
 the set {(1,0,0),(0,1,0),(0,0,1)} forms an orthonormal basis of R^{3}
 the sequence {f_{n} : n ∈ Z} with f_{n}(x) = exp(2πinx) forms an orthonormal basis of the complex space L^{2}([0,1])
 the family {e_{b} : b ∈ B} with e_{b}(c) = 1 if b=c and 0 otherwise forms an orthonormal basis of l^{2}(B).
Using Zorn's lemma, one can show that every Hilbert space admits an orthonormal basis; furthermore, any two orthonormal bases of the same space have the same cardinality. A Hilbert space is separable if and only if it admits a countable orthonormal basis.
Since all infinitedimensional separable Hilbert spaces are isomorphic, and since almost all Hilbert spaces used in physics are separable, when physicists talk about the Hilbert space they mean any separable one.
If {e_{k}}_{k ∈ B} is an orthonormal basis of H, then every element x of H may be written as
If {e_{k}}_{k ∈ B} is an orthonormal basis of H, then H is isomorphic to l^{2}(B) in the following sense: there exists a bijective linear map Φ : H → l^{2}(B) such that
 for all x and y in H.
Orthogonal complements and projections
If S is a subset of the Hilbert space H, we define the set of vectors orthogonal to S
Theorem. The orthogonal projection P_{V} is a selfadjoint linear operator on H of norm ≤ 1 with the property P_{V}^{2} = P_{V}. Moreover, any selfadjoint linear operator E such that E^{2} = E is of the form P_{V}, where V is the range of E. For every x in H, P_{V}(x) is the unique element v of V which minimizes the distance x  v.
This provides the geometrical interpretation of P_{V}(x): it is the best approximation to x by elements of V.
Reflexivity
An important property of any Hilbert space is its reflexivity. In fact, more is true: one has a complete and convenient description of its dual space (the space of all continuous linear functions from the space H into the base field), which is itself a Hilbert space. Indeed, the Riesz representation theorem states that to every element φ of the dual H' there exists one and only one u in H such that
 for all x in H and the association φ ↔ u provides an antilinear isomorphism between H and H\'. This correspondence is exploited by the braket notation popular in physics but frowned upon by mathematicians.
Bounded operators
For a Hilbert space H, the continuous linear operators A : H → H are of particular interest. Such a continuous operator is bounded in the sense that it maps bounded sets to bounded sets. This allows to define its norm as
The set L(H) of all continuous linear operators on H, together with the addition and composition operations, the norm and the adjoint operation, forms a C^{*}algebra; in fact, this is the motivating prototype and most important example of a C^{*}algebra.
An element A of L(H) is called selfadjoint or Hermitian if A^{*} = A. These operators share many features of the real numbers and are sometimes seen as generalizations of them.
An element U of L(H) is called unitary if U is invertible and its inverse is given by U^{*}. This can also be expressed by requiring that <Ux, Uy> = <x, y> for all x and y in H. The unitary operators form a group under composition, which can be viewed as the automorphism group of H.
Unbounded operators
In quantum mechanics, one also considers linear operators which need not be continuous and which need not be defined on the whole space H. One requires only that they are defined on a dense subspace of H. It is possible to define selfadjoint unbounded operators, and these play the role of the observables in the mathematical formulation of quantum mechanics.
Typical examples of selfadjoint unbounded operators on the Hilbert space L^{2}(R) are given by the derivative Af = if ' (where i is the imaginary unit and f is a square integrable function) and by multiplication with x: Bf(x) = xf(x). These correspond to the momentum and position observables, respectively. Note that neither A nor B is defined on all of H, since in the case of A the derivative need not exist, and in the case of B the product function need not be square integrable. In both cases, the set of possible arguments form dense subspaces of L^{2}(R).
See also
 Topologies on the set of operators on a Hilbert space
 Operator algebra
 Reproducing kernel Hilbert space
References
 Paul Halmos, Measure Theory, D. van Nostrand Co, 1950.
 Jean Dieudonné, Foundations of Modern Analysis, Academic Press, 1960.
 Hermann Weyl, The Theory of Groups and Quantum Mechanics, Dover Press, 1950. This book was originally published in German in 1931.