Conjecture vs. Hypothesis

What's the Difference?

Conjecture and hypothesis are both terms used in the field of research and scientific inquiry, but they have slightly different meanings. A conjecture is an educated guess or a proposition based on limited evidence or intuition. It is often used in mathematics or philosophy to propose a theory or solution that has not been proven yet. On the other hand, a hypothesis is a testable statement or prediction that is formulated based on existing knowledge or observations. It is a tentative explanation for a phenomenon that can be tested through experiments or further research. While both conjecture and hypothesis involve making assumptions or predictions, a hypothesis is more specific and grounded in empirical evidence, whereas a conjecture is more speculative and based on intuition or logical reasoning.


DefinitionA proposition based on incomplete evidence or reasoningAn educated guess or proposed explanation based on limited evidence
Level of CertaintyLess certain or speculativeMore certain or testable
ProofUsually lacks conclusive proofCan be proven or disproven through testing
UsageCommonly used in mathematics and philosophyCommonly used in scientific research
ScopeCan be broader and less specificOften more specific and focused
OriginDerived from Latin "conjectura" meaning "to throw together"Derived from Greek "hupothesis" meaning "foundation"

Further Detail


Conjecture and hypothesis are two terms commonly used in the fields of mathematics, science, and research. While they share some similarities, they also have distinct attributes that set them apart. In this article, we will explore the characteristics of conjecture and hypothesis, their definitions, and how they are used in different contexts.

Definition and Purpose

A conjecture is a statement or proposition that is based on incomplete information or limited evidence. It is often formed through intuition or educated guessing. Conjectures are typically used in mathematics to propose a solution or pattern that has not been proven or disproven yet. They serve as a starting point for further investigation and can lead to the development of theorems or proofs.

On the other hand, a hypothesis is a tentative explanation or prediction that is based on available evidence or prior knowledge. It is formulated to guide scientific research and experimentation. Hypotheses are used in various scientific disciplines to propose a cause-and-effect relationship or to test a specific theory. They are subject to empirical testing and can be either supported or rejected based on the evidence gathered.

Formation and Basis

Conjectures are often formed through observation, pattern recognition, or logical reasoning. They can be inspired by previous research, personal experiences, or even serendipitous discoveries. However, conjectures lack rigorous evidence or proof, making them more speculative in nature. Mathematicians, for example, may propose conjectures based on numerical patterns or geometric observations, but they must then work to prove or disprove them using rigorous mathematical techniques.

Hypotheses, on the other hand, are formulated based on existing knowledge, theories, or experimental data. They are often derived from a thorough review of the literature or previous research findings. Hypotheses are expected to be testable and falsifiable, meaning that they can be subjected to empirical investigation and potentially proven wrong. Scientists use hypotheses to guide their research and design experiments that can provide evidence to support or reject the proposed explanation.

Evidence and Testing

Conjectures, being speculative in nature, lack concrete evidence or proof. They are often considered as educated guesses or plausible assumptions. However, mathematicians and researchers work diligently to prove or disprove conjectures using rigorous mathematical or scientific methods. Counterexamples or logical inconsistencies can invalidate a conjecture, while a rigorous proof can establish it as a theorem.

Hypotheses, on the other hand, are subject to empirical testing and require evidence to support or reject them. Scientists design experiments or conduct observations to gather data that can either confirm or refute the proposed hypothesis. The evidence collected is then analyzed using statistical methods or other scientific techniques to draw conclusions. If the evidence consistently supports the hypothesis, it may be considered valid until further research challenges it. If the evidence contradicts the hypothesis, it may be rejected or modified to accommodate the new findings.

Role in Research

Conjectures play a crucial role in the field of mathematics. They serve as starting points for mathematical exploration and can lead to the discovery of new theorems or mathematical concepts. Mathematicians often spend years or even decades working on conjectures, attempting to prove or disprove them. The process of investigating conjectures can lead to new insights, techniques, or even entirely new branches of mathematics.

Hypotheses, on the other hand, are fundamental to the scientific method. They guide the research process, allowing scientists to formulate testable predictions and design experiments to gather evidence. Hypotheses are refined and modified based on the results of experiments, leading to a deeper understanding of the phenomena under investigation. They provide a framework for scientific inquiry and help scientists make progress in their respective fields.


While conjecture and hypothesis share some similarities, such as being speculative in nature and serving as starting points for further investigation, they also have distinct attributes. Conjectures are often based on intuition or incomplete information, while hypotheses are formulated based on existing knowledge or evidence. Conjectures lack rigorous proof and require mathematical or scientific methods to establish their validity, while hypotheses are subject to empirical testing. Both conjectures and hypotheses play important roles in their respective fields, driving research and contributing to the advancement of knowledge.

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