Inference vs Prediction: Difference and Comparison

The terms inference and prediction refer to coming up with a conclusion based on existing data, facts, and evidence. However, ‘prediction’ is used more often than the latter. This is because these words are meant to be put in sentences.

Key Takeaways

  1. Inference is concluding available evidence, observations, or known facts, using logical reasoning and critical thinking.
  2. Prediction involves projecting future events or outcomes based on current data, trends, or patterns without explaining the underlying cause or logic.
  3. The primary distinction between inference and prediction lies in their time orientation and purpose: inference focuses on deducing information from existing data, while prediction anticipates future occurrences.

Inference vs. Prediction

Inference is about reaching a conclusion statement based on facts and evidence evaluation. There is more certainty in inference for the conclusion to be correct. Prediction refers to concluding the future based on estimations. Predictions are less certain.

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A prediction may have been evaluated using statistics and models. However, it is common for predictions to be approximate estimations. Due to this, the term is used more often by people in casual conversations.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonInferencePrediction
MeaningThe term inference refers to a conclusion that has been evaluated based on existing data, facts, and evidence.Predicting is a conclusive statement that revolves around a future event or occurrence.
EvaluationAn inference is made by evaluating statistics and facts based on existing data and evidence.A prediction is made by evaluating statistics and facts, but it is common for them to be approximate estimations.
ModelsInference involves making a model from existing data that describes the relationship between the variables and the outcome of an event or occurrence.Preparing a model to come up with a prediction is unnecessary.
Certainty of conclusionThere is more certainty for the conclusion to be correct as it is evaluated using statistical models based on facts and evidence.There is lesser certainty for a prediction to be correct than inference because the future is unknown.
FormsThe word ‘inference’ is a noun; the word ‘infer’ is its verb form.The word ‘prediction’ is a noun; the word ‘predict’ is its verb form.

What is Inference?

Inference, when used as a noun, refers to reaching a conclusion that has been evaluated based on existing data, facts, and evidence. Using statistical data, it involves building a model that describes the relationship between the variables and the outcome of an event or occurrence.

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There is a fair degree of certainty as the evaluation which has been conducted is factual. Moreover, the conclusion may not necessarily revolve around the future, which tends to be unknown. The term ‘inference’ is commonly used when the conclusion is about the present.

When used as a verb, the term is called ‘infer.’ This means the act of concluding. For example, if children make a bad face on eating a vegetable, their mothers ‘infer‘ that they do not like it; or, if people give negative reviews for a restaurant, it is ‘inferred’ that their food is bad.

Some examples of the term ‘inference’ (noun) in a sentence are – Tom made an ‘inference’ about what was under the table, or the detective asked his assistant to make an ‘inference’ based on the available clues.

inference

What is a Prediction?

Prediction, when used as a noun, refers to a conclusive statement made about a future event or occurrence. Its evaluation may or may not be based on data, facts, and evidence. Due to this, the term is more likely to be used in casual conversation than ‘Inference.’

It is always uncertain whether or not a prediction will turn out to be true. This is because predictions are made about the future, which is unknown. Moreover, predictions are not necessarily made using models or statistics, but it is also common for them to be based on factual data.

When used as a verb, the term is referred to as ‘predict,’ ‘predicted,’ or ‘predicting.’ An example is that the weatherman was ‘predicting’ whether or not it would rain that, or the fortune-teller ‘predicted’ that the house would be sold soon.

Some examples of the term ‘prediction’ (noun) in a sentence are – His ‘prediction’ about the future was wrong; or, Jerry made a ‘prediction’ that the blue team would win the tournament that day.

prediction

Main Differences Between Inference and Prediction

  1. Inference refers to coming up with a conclusion based on existing data, facts, and evidence. In contrast, a prediction refers to a conclusive statement made by evaluating data or making an approximate estimation.
  2. An inference is generally a conclusion about the present situation, but it may sometimes be about the future. On the contrary, a prediction is a conclusion that is always made about the future.
  3. The certainty of the conclusion is more with inference as compared to prediction.
  4. An inference involves making a model using statistics and data and coming up with a conclusion. On the other hand, a prediction does not necessarily require an analysis model.
  5. The verb form of the noun ‘Inference’ is ‘infer,’ while the verb ‘prediction’ is ‘predict.’
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References
  1. https://arxiv.org/abs/1805.09921
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304407611000674
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