Most generally, an inference is a series of reasoning steps via which a conclusion is supported by evidence.
In the context of Cyc, inference is what Cyc does when it is asked a query. “Inference” also refers to a type of data structure that the Cyc inference engine uses to organize all the information it uses, and all the decisions it makes, in the course of processing a query. If the inference has been run in browsable mode (see the training module on Inference Parameters), the inference can be examined in the Inference Browser.
Inference in Cyc can be categorized as forward (occurring at assert time) or backward (occurring at query time).
Forward inferences always perform deduction. Backward inferences may use deduction or abduction.