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In mathematics, use of a function or formula to derive a solution or make a prediction. Unlike approximation, it has precise connotations. In statistics, for example, it connotes the careful selection and testing of a function called an estimator. In calculus, it usually refers to an initial guess for a solution to an equation, which is gradually refined by a process that generates closer estimates. The difference between the estimate and the exact value is the error.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on estimation, visit Britannica.com.