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 Similar habits of analogical inference guide scientists in their speculations about features of the cosmos. Peter E. Gordon, The New York Review of Books, "Why Historical Analogy Matters," 7 Jan. 2020 In 8th grade reading, to reach the basic level, a student should be able to not only make an inference to recognize the main problem in an article but also choose the best interpretation of a quote from an autobiographical story. al, "Alabama schools struggle compared to southeast states, test shows," 7 Nov. 2019 Both sides rely on inferences drawn from fact patterns that align only one way. CBS News, "Now that the House Judiciary Committee has voted to impeach President Trump, what happens next?," 13 Dec. 2019 One last piece of the puzzle is that, when dealing with neural networks, there are two major modes of operation: inference and training. Jim Salter, Ars Technica, "Cloudy with a chance of neurons: The tools that make neural networks work," 9 Dec. 2019 To demonstrate whether these inferences have real-world consequences, Krauss and his colleagues ran another experiment in the form of a simulated hiring scenario. Daisy Grewal, Scientific American, "Americans are Fast to Judge Social Class," 3 Dec. 2019 One of the chips is for training deep learning systems and the other is used to help computers act on the data, a process called inference. Jonathan Vanian, Fortune, "Artificial Intelligence Will Obliterate These Jobs By 2030," 19 Nov. 2019 Defense attorney Brent Nistler moved to prohibit Kintz's testimony as unreliable and speculative, and accused the state of adding inferences to Kintz's 2015 report. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Operator of former Cedarburg fondue restaurant may have drugged more than 20 young women, prosecutor says," 14 Nov. 2019 What was the best assumption to make or most useful tabulation of responses in the 1960s may cause erroneous inferences in 2020. Edward Lotterman, Twin Cities, "Real World Economics: Labor force gray areas demand explanation," 13 Oct. 2019

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

27 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Inference.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/inference. Accessed 28 January 2020.

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More Definitions for inference

inference

noun
How to pronounce inference (audio)

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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Comments on inference

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