Predictive Analytics and Information Retrieval (IR) – how do they differ?

Tilmann Bruckhaus answers:

Information Retrieval

Predictive Analytics

General Purpose

Multi-database, open-ended research

Prediction, classification and scoring

Scope of Results



Type of Results

Entire Documents from various sources, such as internal databases, document collections, and Google results.

A single value, such as a risk percentage (e.g., "42%"), classification ("red", "blue", "green"), or predicted value. (e.g., "54.2")


Connect to source databases, then perform any desired query.

Develop a custom model for each task.

Typical Uses

Research background info on a given technical issue.

Pinpoint high-risk situations among hundreds or even millions of known cases.


Sophisticated indexing of source documents.

Discover complex patterns in high-dimensional spaces.

How are results found?

Matching against a user-supplied ad-hoc query.

Matching against mathematical patterns that were learned during a training phase.


Flexibility - handle any ad-hoc query on the fly.

Automation - provide answers without user intervention..