Difference Between Inference and Prediction (with Table)

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 as compared to the latter. The reason behind this lies in the way these words are meant to be put in sentences.

The difference between inference and prediction is that ‘Inference’ is used when referring to the act of reaching a conclusion that has been evaluated using various methods based on facts and evidence, whereas, ‘prediction’ refers to a conclusive statement about a future event or occurence.

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 Between Inference and Prediction

Parameters of ComparisonInferencePrediction
MeaningThe term inference refers to a conclusion that has been evaluated based on existing data, facts, and evidence.The term prediction refers to 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 out of existing data that describes the relationship between the variables and the outcome of an event or occurrence.It is not necessary to prepare a model in order to come up with a prediction.
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 as compared to 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 the act of reaching a conclusion that has been evaluated based on existing data, facts, and evidence. It involves building a model that describes the relationship between the variables and the outcome of an event or occurrence using statistical data.

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. Commonly, the term ‘inference’ is used when the conclusion is about the present.

When used as a verb, the term is referred to as ‘infer’. This means the act of reaching a conclusion. 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.

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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 a conversation as compared to ‘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.

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Main Differences Between Inference and Prediction

  1. Inference refers to coming up with a conclusion based on existing data, facts, and evidence while a prediction refers to a conclusive statement that is made either 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 subsequently coming up with a conclusion. On the other hand, a prediction does not necessarily require a model for analysis.
  5. The verb form of the noun ‘Inference’ is ‘infer’, while the verb form of the noun ‘prediction’ is ‘predict’.

Conclusion

Inference and prediction are two English words that have quite a similar meaning. Therefore, understanding the difference between them may seem troublesome. However, an easy way to tell them apart is by remembering the involvement of ‘the future’ with both the words.

It is not necessary for an inference to be about the future. In fact, an inference is generally used for concluding something about the present, based on a present situation. On the other hand, a prediction is always made about a future event or occurrence.

Even though predictions can be made using facts and evidence, the evaluated outcome or conclusion is always uncertain. This is because the future is always unknown despite the presence of logical evidence and reason.

References

  1. https://arxiv.org/abs/1805.09921
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304407611000674