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Understanding Tensors and Tensor Decompositions: Part 3
Published by:
Professor Ishwar Sethi
Date Published:
April 6, 2023

This is my third post on tensors and tensor decompositions. The first post on this topic primarily introduced tensors and some related terminology. The second post was meant to illustrate a particularly simple tensor decomposition method, called the CP decomposition. In this post, I will describe another tensor decomposition method, known as the Tucker decomposition. While the CP decomposition’s chief merit is its simplicity, it is limited in its approximation capability and it requires the same number of components in each mode. The Tucker decomposition, on the other hand, is extremely efficient in terms of approximation and allows different number of components in different modes. Before going any further, lets look at factor matrices and n-mode product of a tensor and a matrix. Factor Matrices Recall the CP decomposition of an order three tensor expressed as X≈∑r=1Rar∘br∘cr, where (∘ ) represents the outer product. We can also represent this decomposition in terms of organizing the vectors, ar,br,cr,r=1,⋯R , into three matrices, A, B, and C, as A=[a1a2⋯aR], B=[b1b2⋯bR],and C=[c1c2⋯cR] The CP decomposition is then expressed as X≈[Λ;A,B,C], where Λ is a super-diagonal tensor with all zero entries except the diagonal elements. The matrices A, B, and C are called the factor matrices. Next, lets try to understand the n-mode product. Multiplying a Tensor and a Matrix How do you multiply a tensor and a matrix? The answer is via n-mode product. The n-mode product of a tensor X∈RI1×I2×⋯IN with a matrix U∈RJ1×In is a tensor of size I1×I2×⋯In−1×J×In+1×⋯×IN, and is denoted by X×nU . The product is calculated by multiplying each mode-n fibre by the U matrix. Lets look at an example to better understand the n-mode product. Lets consider a 2x2x3 tensor whose frontal slices are:

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