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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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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 ?
The reason for MANI's lower performance in the DREAM4 challenge was due to the presence of feedback loops in the network while MANI has been primarily developed to infer networks without such feedback structures.
In this section, we will present the methods to infer the birthdays and educational background of the Facebook users.
In common purpose cases where it is established that the accomplice authorized (tacitly or expressly) the perpetrator to commit the conditional-target crime (e.g., the killing of a security guard) for the purpose of effecting their joint enterprise (e.g., a bank robbery), the jury will be able to infer that the accomplice's authorization and assent of the criminal plan did in fact encourage the perpetrator, even if it was not the perpetrator's sole motivation for offending.
The students were then asked to guess the meanings of the words in question (assessing the students' ability to infer and explain the meanings of unknown words in context).
The Arkansas Supreme Court agreed with the defendants and ruled that there were insufficient facts provided in the affidavit from which to infer that there would be any evidence in the homes searched.
The PBD developer community's expectation has been that, since these systems are interactive, the user is helping the system whenever the system cannot infer the correct behavior.
For example, the bidder contacts a person other than the designated representative of the agency and engages in a communication which a reasonable person would infer was intended to influence the procurement.
The government argued that it was reasonable to infer that criminals would, not ordinarily trust an unwitting person to deliver a valuable shipment of a large quantity of drugs, and, therefore, it is reasonable to further infer that a driver entrusted with drugs valued at between 12 and 15 million dollars must have known t he drugs were in the car.
So, astronomers infer how a galaxy's dark matter is distributed by looking at the apparent gravitational short fall in each onion layer.
The court held that sufficient evidence existed, in addition to the possession of cocaine, to infer that the defendant was part of a larger conspiracy.
The court concluded: "There simply is no language in the exclusion provision from which to infer that the provision was drafted with a view toward limiting liability for lead paint-related injury.
"Malicious applications may be able to infer the values of data in the operating system memory, or data from other applications," Intel said in the report.