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Inference vs. Prediction: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Aimie Carlson || Published on December 31, 2023
Inference is drawing conclusions from data or evidence, while prediction involves forecasting future events based on current information.

Key Differences

Inference involves analyzing existing data to reach conclusions, often used in decision-making processes. Prediction, on the other hand, focuses on forecasting future events or outcomes based on current or past data.
In scientific research, inference helps in understanding the underlying mechanisms of observed phenomena. Prediction, in contrast, is used to test hypotheses about future occurrences or trends.
In data analysis, inference is used to draw conclusions about a population based on a sample. Prediction applies data analysis techniques to estimate future trends or outcomes.
In machine learning, inference involves understanding the model's decision-making process. Prediction, however, is the process of using a trained model to forecast future data points.
In statistics, inference refers to the process of estimating population parameters based on sample data. Prediction is about forecasting future data points based on existing statistical models.

Comparison Chart


Drawing conclusions from current data
Forecasting future events or outcomes

Data Utilization

Analyzes existing data
Uses data to forecast future trends

Role in Research

Helps understand phenomena
Tests hypotheses about future occurrences

Application in Analytics

Used to infer population characteristics
Estimates future data trends

Context in Machine Learning

Understanding model decision-making
Using a model to forecast data

Inference and Prediction Definitions


A conclusion reached on the basis of evidence and reasoning.
The detective's inference was crucial in solving the case.


The act of forecasting future events based on current or past information.
The weather forecast made a prediction of rain for tomorrow.


The act of deriving logical conclusions from premises known or assumed to be true.
His inference was that higher investment would yield better returns.


A guess about what might happen in the future.
Her prediction for the upcoming game was just a guess.


The process of deducing conclusions from facts or evidence.
From the survey data, we made an inference about consumer preferences.


A statement about what will happen in the future.
Her prediction about the election results turned out to be accurate.


Drawing logical conclusions from available information.
Her inference about the market trends was based on the latest reports.


Estimating future trends or behaviors.
His prediction for the stock market was cautiously optimistic.


Using observed data to infer the properties of an unobserved phenomenon.
The scientist used inference to understand the experiment's results.


Using data to anticipate future occurrences.
Based on the data, their prediction was a rise in sales.


The act or process of deriving logical conclusions from premises known or assumed to be true.


The act of predicting.


The act of reasoning from factual knowledge or evidence.


Something foretold or predicted; a prophecy.


Something inferred.


A statement of what will happen in the future.


Usage Problem A hint or suggestion
The editorial contained an inference of foul play in the awarding of the contract. See Usage Note at infer.


(statistics) A probability estimation based on statistical methods.


(uncountable) The act or process of inferring by deduction or induction.


The act of foretelling; also, that which is foretold; prophecy.
The predictions of cold and long winters.


(countable) That which is inferred; a truth or proposition drawn from another which is admitted or supposed to be true; a conclusion; a deduction.


The act of predicting (as by reasoning about the future)


The act or process of inferring by deduction or induction.
Though it may chance to be right in the conclusions, it is yet unjust and mistaken in the method of inference.


A statement made about the future


That which inferred; a truth or proposition drawn from another which is admitted or supposed to be true; a conclusion; a deduction.
These inferences, or conclusions, are the effects of reasoning, and the three propositions, taken all together, are called syllogism, or argument.


The reasoning involved in drawing a conclusion or making a logical judgment on the basis of circumstantial evidence and prior conclusions rather than on the basis of direct observation


Can predictions always be accurate?

No, predictions are estimates and can be subject to errors.

Is inference based on assumptions?

Yes, inference often involves making conclusions based on assumptions and evidence.

How does inference differ from assumption?

Inference is a conclusion based on evidence, while an assumption is a belief without proof.

Can inference be wrong?

Yes, inferences can be incorrect if based on faulty data or reasoning.

What fields use prediction regularly?

Prediction is widely used in fields like meteorology, finance, and marketing.

Is statistical inference complicated?

Statistical inference can be complex and requires understanding of statistical methods.

What makes a prediction accurate?

Accurate predictions rely on high-quality data, sound models, and proper analysis.

What is a prediction?

Prediction is the act of forecasting future events based on current information.

How is inference used in science?

Inference in science is used to draw conclusions about a study or experiment.

What does inference mean?

Inference is the process of drawing conclusions from data or evidence.

Is prediction a part of data analysis?

Yes, prediction is a key component of data analysis, focusing on future trends.

What role does inference play in machine learning?

In machine learning, inference is used to interpret and understand model outputs.

How do businesses use prediction?

Businesses use prediction for market trends, sales forecasting, and strategic planning.

Can inference be used in daily life?

Yes, we often make inferences in everyday situations based on observations and experience.

Are predictions always about the future?

Yes, predictions are always related to future events or outcomes.

How do inferences help in decision-making?

Inferences help in making informed decisions by interpreting and concluding from data.

What skills are needed for making good predictions?

Good predictions require analytical skills, understanding of data, and often, expertise in specific fields.

Are predictions reliable in the long term?

Long-term predictions may be less reliable due to increasing uncertainties.

How does technology impact prediction?

Technology, especially AI and machine learning, has greatly enhanced the accuracy of predictions.

Is inference subjective?

Inference can have subjective elements, as it depends on one's interpretation of data.
About Author
Written by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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