The usual error analysis of the symmetric eigenproblem (using any LAPACK routine in subsection 2.2.4 or any EISPACK routine) is as follows :
The computed eigendecomposition is nearly the exact eigendecomposition of A + E, i.e., is a true eigendecomposition so that is orthogonal, where and . Here p(n) is a modestly growing function of n. We take p(n) = 1 in the above code fragment. Each computed eigenvalue differs from a true by at most
Thus large eigenvalues (those near ) are computed to high relative accuracy and small ones may not be.
The angular difference between the computed unit eigenvector and a true unit eigenvector satisfies the approximate bound
if is small enough. Here is the absolute gap between and the nearest other eigenvalue. Thus, if is close to other eigenvalues, its corresponding eigenvector may be inaccurate. The gaps may be easily computed from the array of computed eigenvalues using subroutine SDISNA . The gaps computed by SDISNA are ensured not to be so small as to cause overflow when used as divisors.
Let be the invariant subspace spanned by a collection of eigenvectors , where is a subset of the integers from 1 to n. Let S be the corresponding true subspace. Then
is the absolute gap between the eigenvalues in and the nearest other eigenvalue. Thus, a cluster of close eigenvalues which is far away from any other eigenvalue may have a well determined invariant subspace even if its individual eigenvectors are ill-conditioned.
In the special case of a real symmetric tridiagonal matrix T, the eigenvalues and eigenvectors can be computed much more accurately. xSYEV (and the other symmetric eigenproblem drivers) computes the eigenvalues and eigenvectors of a dense symmetric matrix by first reducing it to tridiagonal form T, and then finding the eigenvalues and eigenvectors of T. Reduction of a dense matrix to tridiagonal form T can introduce additional errors, so the following bounds for the tridiagonal case do not apply to the dense case.
The eigenvalues of T may be computed with small componentwise relative backward error () by using subroutine xSTEBZ (subsection 2.3.4) or driver xSTEVX (subsection 2.2.4). If T is also positive definite, they may also be computed at least as accurately by xPTEQR (subsection 2.3.4). To compute error bounds for the computed eigenvalues we must make some assumptions about T. The bounds discussed here are from . Suppose T is positive definite, and write T = DHD where and . Then the computed eigenvalues can differ from true eigenvalues by
where p(n) is a modestly growing function of n. Thus if is moderate, each eigenvalue will be computed to high relative accuracy, no matter how tiny it is. The eigenvectors computed by xPTEQR can differ from true eigenvectors by at most about
if is small enough, where is the relative gap between and the nearest other eigenvalue. Since the relative gap may be much larger than the absolute gap, this error bound may be much smaller than the previous one.
could be computed by applying xPTCON (subsection 2.3.1) to H. The relative gaps are easily computed from the array of computed eigenvalues.
Jacobi's method  is another algorithm for finding eigenvalues and eigenvectors of symmetric matrices. It is slower than the algorithms based on first tridiagonalizing the matrix, but is capable of computing more accurate answers in several important cases. Routines implementing Jacobi's method and corresponding error bounds will be available in a future LAPACK release.