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Inference is the act or process of deriving a conclusion based solely on what one already knows. Inference is studied within several different fields.

  • Human inference (i.e. how humans draw conclusions) is traditionally studied within the field of cognitive psychology.
  • Logic studies the laws of valid inference.
  • Statisticians have developed formal rules for inference from quantitative data.
  • Artificial intelligence researchers develop automated inference systems.

Inductive and deductive inference --
The conclusion inferred from multiple observations is made by the process of inductive reasoning. The conclusion may be correct or incorrect, and may be tested by additional observations. In contrast, the conclusion of a valid deductive inference is true if the premises are true. The conclusion is inferred using the process of deductive reasoning. A valid deductive inference is never false. This is because the validity of a deductive inference is formal. The inferred conclusion of a valid deductive inference is necessarily true if the premises it is based on are true.

Wikipedia contributors, ""Inference,"" Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed January 31, 2007).

See induction and deduction.