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statistical inference

noun
1.
the theory, methods, and practice of forming judgments about the parameters of a population, usually on the basis of random sampling Also called inferential statistics Compare hypothesis testing
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Encyclopedia Article for statistical inference

in statistics, the process of drawing conclusions about a parameter one is seeking to measure or estimate. Often scientists have many measurements of an object-say, the mass of an electron-and wish to choose the best measure. One principal approach of statistical inference is Bayesian estimation, which incorporates reasonable expectations or prior judgments (perhaps based on previous studies), as well as new observations or experimental results. Another method is the likelihood approach, in which "prior probabilities" are eschewed in favour of calculating a value of the parameter that would be most "likely" to produce the observed distribution of experimental outcomes.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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