For solving a linear system,

$Ax = b$.

If $A$ is a dense but symmetric $n \times n$ matrix, how much memory is required?

$A$ is symmetric, which means only the upper (or lower) triangular part of $n \times (n+1)/2$ entries would be necessary. Does $A$'s memory requirement have to be 8 bytes $\times n \times n$ or can it be lowered toward 8 bytes $\times n \times (n+1)/2$?

  • $\begingroup$ Specifically, you will want to look up the difference between a regular LU decomposition and the Cholesky decomposition that exploits the symmetry of the matrix. $\endgroup$ Nov 7, 2022 at 16:50

1 Answer 1


It can be lowered; it is called packed storage and Lapack has some functions to deal with it, e.g., ?PPSVX, ?SPSVX.

As this storage scheme is somewhat uncommon, I don't think you can use it easily in higher-level packages such as Matlab or Scipy. There is a Julia package though.

Alternatively, if you have an upper and a lower triangular matrix with known diagonal, such as the results of an LU factorization, you can pack two in the space of one $n\times n$ array.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ A small word of caution is that these packed storage routines are slower than the corresponding non-packed ones, as they rely on BLAS-1 routines instead of BLAS-2 or BLAS-3. You might also look into "rectangular packed format", which can achieve BLAS-3 performance without using duplicate storage (though this is easier for some kernels than others). $\endgroup$ Nov 11, 2022 at 20:31

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