The High Performance Adaptive Weight Computation (HAWC) processing element is a CORDIC based application specific DSP element that, when connected in a linear array, can perform extremely high throughput (100s of GFLOPS) matrix arithmetic operations on linear systems of equations in real time. In particular, it very efficiently performs the numerically intense computation of optimal least squares solutions for large, over-determined linear systems. Most techniques for computing solutions to these types of problems have used either a hard-wired, non-programmable systolic array approach, or more commonly, programmable DSP or microprocessor approaches. The custom logic methods can be efficient, but are generally inflexible. Approaches using multiple programmable generic DSP devices are very flexible, but suffer from poor efficiency and high computation latencies, primarily due to the large number of DSP devices that must be utilized to achieve the necessary arithmetic throughput. The HAWC processor is implemented as a highly optimized systolic array, yet retains some of the flexibility of a programmable data-flow system, allowing efficient implementation of algorithm variations. This provides flexible matrix processing capabilities that are one to three orders of magnitude less expensive and more dense than the current state of the art, and more importantly, allows a realizable solution to matrix processing problems that were previously considered impractical to physically implement. HAWC has direct applications in RADAR, SONAR, communications, and image processing, as well as in many other types of systems.