Spectral theory is the study of generalized notions of eigenvalues and eigenvectors for linear operators in Banach spaces.

Spectral theory is an inclusive term for theories extending the eigenvector and eigenvalue theory of a single square matrix to a much broader theory of the structure of operators in a variety of mathematical spaces. It is a result of studies of linear algebra and the solutions of systems of linear equations and their generalizations. The theory is connected to that of analytic functions because the spectral properties of an operator are related to analytic functions of the spectral parameter.