inference

noun
in·​fer·​ence | \ ˈin-f(ə-)rən(t)s How to pronounce inference (audio) , -fərn(t)s \

Definition of inference

1 : something that is inferred especially : a conclusion or opinion that is formed because of known facts or evidence
2 : the act or process of inferring (see infer): such as
a : the act of passing from one proposition, statement, or judgment considered as true to another whose truth is believed to follow from that of the former
b : the act of passing from statistical sample data to generalizations (as of the value of population parameters) usually with calculated degrees of certainty
3 : the premises and conclusion of a process of inferring

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Examples of inference in a Sentence

In spite of the fact that there are virtually no controlled clinical trials examining the effects of obesity in people, we can make some inferences from animal research. — Patrick Johnson, Skeptical Inquirer, September/October 2005 We cannot see a past event directly, but science is usually based on inference, not unvarnished observation (you don't see electrons, gravity, or black holes either). — Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life, 1989 The writer of science fiction extends or projects or draws inferences from what is known and accepted. — Karl Kroeber, Romantic Fantasy and Science Fiction, 1988 Its existence is only known by inference. The program uses records of past purchases to make inferences about what customers will buy in the future. What inference can we draw from these facts?
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Recent Examples on the Web Unless such practices can be found to meet some standard of justification (e.g., be shown to be a business necessity for an employer), an inference of discrimination can be found. Rick Esenberg, National Review, "Why ‘Equity’ Is a Bad Fit for Our Legal System," 11 Apr. 2021 But there are other ways to get at causal inference, and this study was really meant to get at that genetic question. Washington Post, "Americans are still spanking their kids. A new study shows how harmful that is.," 12 Apr. 2021 However, there can be several other benefits to learning this extra information, both for model training and during operation (inference). Ed Stacey, Forbes, "What Humans Can Learn From 'Human In The Loop' Learning," 9 Apr. 2021 But what’s to be done when audiences grow less attuned to inference, to seeing goodness as its own believable internal drama? Matthew Carey Salyer, Forbes, "Marvel’s ‘Hellfire Gala’ Event: A Rococo Blend Of Superheroes And Haute Couture," 21 Mar. 2021 Yet scientists and reporters sometimes cause confusion by implying that a scientific finding is beyond dispute or by delivering it in a story line that invites that inference. Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Scientific American, "How to Debunk Misinformation about COVID, Vaccines and Masks," 18 Mar. 2021 Given the impressive effectiveness of the vaccine, that should have been immediately obvious by applying scientific inference and common sense. Marty Makary, WSJ, "Covid Prescription: Get the Vaccine, Wait a Month, Return to Normal," 10 Mar. 2021 Because the forward weights used for inference are updated with each backward pass, the network still descends the gradient of the loss function, but by a different path. Quanta Magazine, "Artificial Neural Nets Finally Yield Clues to How Brains Learn," 18 Feb. 2021 That is the obvious inference from the upheaval in retailing that is leaving shopping malls and high streets, and millions of low-income jobs, surplus to requirements, yet panders to the consumer’s craving for convenience. The Economist, "People Shop assistants and the retail renaissance," 13 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'inference.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of inference

1594, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for inference

see infer

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Learn More about inference

Time Traveler for inference

Time Traveler

The first known use of inference was in 1594

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Statistics for inference

Last Updated

8 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Inference.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/inference. Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for inference

inference

noun

English Language Learners Definition of inference

: the act or process of reaching a conclusion about something from known facts or evidence
: a conclusion or opinion that is formed because of known facts or evidence

inference

noun
in·​fer·​ence | \ ˈin-fə-rəns How to pronounce inference (audio) \

Kids Definition of inference

1 : the act or process of reaching a conclusion about something from known facts
2 : a conclusion or opinion reached based on known facts

inference

noun
in·​fer·​ence | \ ˈin-fə-rəns How to pronounce inference (audio) \

Legal Definition of inference

1 : the act or process of inferring specifically : the act of passing from one proposition, statement, or judgment considered as true to another whose truth is believed to follow logically from that of the former
2 : something inferred especially : a proposition arrived at by inference — see also permissive presumption at presumption
3 : the premises and conclusions of a process of inferring

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