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1. any process of reasoning from premises to a conclusion
2. Logic the specific mode of reasoning used
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the mental activity that makes a connection between disparate thoughts, linking them in a set of premises and conclusions. It is by inference that the norms and categories of such connections, which are inherently present in the social or individual consciousness, are expressed on the level of “inner speech.” Indeed, these norms and categories themselves—in any given instance—constitute the psychological basis of inference; when they coincide with the rules and laws of logic, the inference is judged by its result to be equivalent to logical deduction, although generally speaking there is a qualitative difference between logical deduction and inference.

Logical deduction, as distinct from inference, rests on “external means”; it operates through the verbal (symbolic) recording of thoughts or through their formalization—that is, the codification of thoughts and representation of their connections by one or another formal language or system, such as calculus—with the goal of reducing to a minimum the subconscious, enthymematic, and elliptical elements of deduction and translating abstract or “convoluted” thought processes into the language of “images.” Furthermore, the “legitimacy” of inference need not necessarily be determined by logical norms. For example, an incomplete induction is precisely an inference and not a logical deduction, inasmuch as the connection between premises and conclusions in induction has a factual and psychological basis (as expressed in the well-known norms of generalization) but lacks a logical basis—that is, lacks those formal rules by which thinking proceeds from the particular to the general.

A further distinction is drawn between inference and reasoning: the latter is always a consciously willed mental activity, while an inference, in principle at least, can be both involuntary and an act of the subconscious.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


The logical process by which new facts are derived from known facts by the application of inference rules.

See also symbolic inference, type inference.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (

inference engine

An inference engine makes a decision from the facts and rules contained in the knowledge base of an expert system or the algorithm derived from a deep learning AI system. The inference engine is the processing component in contrast to the fact gathering or learning side of the system.

In years past, the inference engine referred to software-only expert systems. Today, there are specialized chips for executing in parallel the enormous number of calculations in a neural network, which is the primary AI architecture. See neural network, deep learning and expert system.
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References in periodicals archive ?
In addition, this system can perform a more complicated logical inference by using definition sentences, and performing the inference repeatedly.
However, consistency requires that conditional probabilities express logical inferences not physical influences.
This debate had been occasioned by Peter Winch's 1964 essay, 'Understanding a primitive culture', in which he was critical of Evans-Pritchard's own critique of Azande handling of culpability in witchcraft accusations as overlooking the obvious logical inference from their basic premises.
He first proposed the hypothesis, and obtained by logical inference, then be verified by observation and experiment.
"As a matter of logical inference, if Abu Qatada were to abscond, either resources would have to be diverted to finding him or finding him would have to be accorded a lower priority."
The logical inference, therefore, is that on a global basis, Middle Eastern hotels (not to mention those in London and Paris) simply do not inspire enough of their guests to write unsolicited five-star reviews, compared to such places as Belize and the Czech Republic.
This is a case of the right man being on the right horse, and the logical inference to be drawn from the riding plans is that O'Brien prefers the Montjeu colt to Seville, who faces the task of reversing the form of a muddling Dante with Carlton House, with Christophe Soumillon maintaining the partnership.
Responding just weeks after the new revelations in Philadelphia, she added, "It seems such a logical inference given the recent events, I can't not say it." In Philadelphia, the grand jury and an independent investigator found that at least two dozen priests should have been considered credibly accused but had not been reported.
So they are of marginal use for making a logical inference. According to the definition, a COG has capabilities, but what capabilities, or capabilities to do what?
The book is for logicians and mathematicians working with the theory of classification and models of logical inference. It will also interest specialists in artificial intelligence, machine learning algorithms, and knowledge engineering.
(2008), "Musical Meaning and Logical Inference from the Perspective of Peircean Pragmatism," Proceedings of the 4th Conference on Interdisciplinary Musicology, Thessaloniki, July 3-6.

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