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A fundamental problem in computer vision and pattern recognition is to determine where and, most importantly, why a given technique is applicable. This is not only necessary because it helps us decide which techniques to apply at each given time. Knowing why current algorithms cannot be applied facilitates the design of new algorithms robust to such problems. In this paper, we report on a theoretical study that demonstrates where and why generalized eigen-based linear equations do not work. In particular, we show that when the smallest angle between the ith eigenvector given by the metric to be maximized and the first i eigenvectors given by the metric to be minimized is close to zero, our results are not guaranteed to be correct. Several properties of such models are also presented. For illustration, we concentrate on the classical applications of classification and feature extraction. We also show how we can use our findings to design more robust algorithms. We conclude with a discussion on the broader impacts of our results.