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I don't get why there's a half in the cost function

$$J(\theta_0, \theta_1) = \frac{1}{2} \sum_{i=1}^m(h_\theta(x^{(i)}) - y^{(i)})^2$$

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closed as off-topic by Did, vonbrand, Winther, user91500, Claude Leibovici Sep 3 '15 at 6:52

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    $\begingroup$ Your audience is probably not familiar with the notation used here. Anyway, a $1/2$ in front of a sum of squares is often present not because it is essential but rather "for beauty" because when you differentiate it cancels out. $\| x \|^2_A = \frac{1}{2} x^T A x$ is a similar convention. $\endgroup$ – Ian Sep 2 '15 at 20:23
  • $\begingroup$ For instance, I like to take the $\ell_2$ norm normalized by a factor $\frac{1}{\sqrt{\log \pi}}$ :D $\endgroup$ – Jack D'Aurizio Sep 2 '15 at 20:33
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    $\begingroup$ If you use the factor of $1/2$, the relationship between a symmetric quadratic optimization problem and its associated linear system becomes cleaner. That is, the stationary point of the quadratic function $f(x)=\frac{1}{2}x^T A x - b^T x$ is the solution to the system $Ax=b$ $\endgroup$ – Nick Alger Sep 2 '15 at 20:59

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