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 However, experts in the mathematics of probability have identified the inference from the fine-tuning to the multiverse as an instance of fallacious reasoning. Philip Goff, Scientific American, "Our Improbable Existence Is No Evidence for a Multiverse," 10 Jan. 2021 But on closer examination, the inference from fine-tuning to the multiverse proves to be instance of flawed reasoning. Philip Goff, Scientific American, "Our Improbable Existence Is No Evidence for a Multiverse," 10 Jan. 2021 And yet the inference to many monkeys is still unwarranted. Philip Goff, Scientific American, "Our Improbable Existence Is No Evidence for a Multiverse," 10 Jan. 2021 There’s evidence—or, at least, inference—for each of these outcomes in the record. Edward Kosner, WSJ, "‘The Golden Thread’ Review: Who Killed Dag Hammarskjöld?," 21 Dec. 2020 And the vast majority of that cloud work is performed not by traditional if-then logic but inference—which is the answer-providing side of neural network processing. Jim Salter, Ars Technica, "Amazon begins shifting Alexa’s cloud AI to its own silicon," 13 Nov. 2020 The inference was that Blacks were somehow complicit in an event that obliterated a generation Black wealth (insurance companies refused to pay for losses of businesses and homes) and senselessly ended countless innocent lives. Roy S. Johnson | Rjohnson@al.com, al, "Johnson: ‘It was a girl in the car!’, Bonita Carter was Birmingham’s Breonna Taylor," 18 Nov. 2020 AWS Inferentia is a custom chip, built by AWS, to accelerate machine learning inference workloads and optimize their cost. Jim Salter, Ars Technica, "Amazon begins shifting Alexa’s cloud AI to its own silicon," 13 Nov. 2020 The journal did not explicitly endorse former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, but that was the only possible inference, other scientists noted. Maggie Haberman, New York Times, "Trump Calls His Illness ‘a Blessing From God’," 7 Oct. 2020

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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Time Traveler for inference

Time Traveler

The first known use of inference was in 1594

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Statistics for inference

Last Updated

13 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Inference.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/inference. Accessed 26 Feb. 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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Comments on inference

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