What is the meaning of the symbols $S_{xx}$ and $S_{xy}$ in simple linear regression? I know the formula but what is the meaning of those symbols?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Possibly $\sum x^2$ and $\sum xy$, or $\sum (x-\bar{x})^2$ and $\sum (x-\bar{x})(y-\bar{y})$ but it would depend on how the writer used them $\endgroup$
    – Henry
    Oct 27, 2015 at 7:51

2 Answers 2


$S_{xx}$ is the sum of the squares of the difference between each $x$ and the mean $x$ value.

$S_{xy}$ is sum of the product of the difference between $x$ its means and the difference between $y$ and its mean.

So $S_{xx}=\Sigma(x-\overline{x})(x-\overline{x})$ and $S_{xy}=\Sigma(x-\overline{x})(y-\overline{y})$. Both of these are often rearranged into equivalent (different) forms when shown in textbooks.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It depends. Look at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simple_linear_regression to see what Henry wrote. $\endgroup$ Oct 27, 2015 at 7:54
  • $\begingroup$ Fair enough. Given that the OP knows the formulas but couldn't see a direct link between name and formula I assumed it wasn't the other meaning. $\endgroup$
    – Ian Miller
    Oct 27, 2015 at 8:00
  • $\begingroup$ At the bottom of that wikipedia articel, it uses simply $S_{xx} = \sum{x_i}$. Is that true? $\endgroup$
    – user71207
    Sep 22, 2021 at 2:31

To add to the answer from Ian Miller,

$$S_{xx}=\sum x^2 -\frac{(\sum x)^2}{n}=\sum x^2 -n\bar{x}^2$$

Intuitively, $S_{xy}$ is the result when you replace one of the $x$'s with a $y$.

$$S_{xy}=\sum xy -\frac{\sum x \sum y}{n}=\sum xy -n\bar{x}\bar{y}$$

Also, just for your information, the good thing about this notation is that it simplifies other parts of linear regression.

For example, the product-moment correlation coefficient:

$$r=\frac{\sum xy -n\bar{x}\bar{y}}{\sqrt{(\sum x^2 -n\bar{x}^2)(\sum y^2 - n\bar{y}^2)}} = \frac{S_{xy}}{\sqrt{S_{xx}S_{yy}}}$$

or to find the gradient of the best-fit line $y=a+bx$:

$$y-\bar{y}=b(x-\bar{x}), \text{ where } b=\frac{S_{xy}}{S_{xx}}$$

The pragmatic importance of this is that if you are doing a long question about linear regression, calculating $S_{xx}$, $S_{yy}$ and $S_{xy}$ at the beginning can save you a lot of work.


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