Inference and prediction are two often confused terms, perhaps in part because they are not mutually exclusive. Both provide pieces of the "What is data telling me?" puzzle. In fact, many inferential questions are raised as a result of predictions: For example, you might predict how input variables X, Y, and Z affect an output variable B. Then you can infer how important (or not important) the individual input variables are. Despite these types of connections, the two terms differ in several key ways. This one picture outlines the major differences.