# polynomial least squares derivation: normal equations

Suppose we have the problem $$\min_{q \in \mathcal{P}_n} \|f - q\|_{L^2(w)}^2$$ where $\mathcal{P}_n$ is the space of polynomials of degree $n$, $w$ is some weight function (measure with continuous density), and $\|g\|_{L^2(w)}^2 = \int_a^b (g(x))^2 w(dx)$. I want to clarify the connection between this case and its finite dimensional analog $$\min_{\beta \in \mathbb{R}^{n}} \|y - X\beta|_2^2.$$ In finite dimensions, we set the gradient equal to zero and recover the normal equations $$2X^T X \beta - 2X^T \beta = 0.$$ How can I recover the normal equations in the infinite dimensional case above? I'm at \begin{align} \min_{q \in \mathcal{P}_n} \|f - q\|_{L^2(w)}^2 &= \min_{q \in \mathcal{P}_n} \int_a^b [f(x)^2 - 2q(x)f(x) + q(x)^2] w(dx) \\ &= \min_{q \in \mathcal{P}_n} \int_a^b [- 2q(x)f(x) + q(x)^2] w(dx) \end{align} but I don't know how to differentiate wrt $q(x)$ (and am not sure that this is even the right step).

The Normal Equations actually hold in any Hilbert space as long as the subspace you are estimating in is of finite (co-)dimension and here $V=\mathcal P_n$ has $\dim n+1$.
To see this, observe by the Projection Theorem that the optimal vector $q=\sum a_j p_j, p_j \in V$ satisfies \begin{align*} \left\langle x -\sum a_j p_j | p_i \right\rangle=0. \end{align*} Use this to derive expressions for the $a_j$ and you end up with an infinite-dimensional generalization of the normal equations (i.e. your result will reduce to the matrix form if your Hilbert space itself is finite-dimensional).
Edit: in your case \begin{align*} \langle x| y\rangle = \int xy d\mu \end{align*} and $w(dx)=d\mu$.
Edit2: Your attempt to differentiate wrt $q$ is essentially the same as in the calculus of variations, you could probably get somewhere with Euler-Lagrange as well if you still want to try that route. This connects to the idea that there often are (at least) two ways to solve an (easy) optimization problem: the direct route via differential techniques, here Euler-Lagrange, or the geometric route, here the projection theorem, using orthogonality.