Abductive reasoning

Abductive reasoning is a form of logical inference typically begins with an observation or an incomplete set of observations then seeks to find the simplest and most likely explanation. This process, unlike deductive reasoning, yields a plausible conclusion but does not positively verify it. Abductive conclusions are thus qualified as having a remnant of uncertainty or doubt, which is expressed in retreat terms such as “best available” or “most likely.”

One can understand the abductive reasoning as an inference to the best explanation, although not all uses of the terms abduction and inference to the best explanation are precisely equivalent.