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The word theory refers to a speculative explanation or to a confirmed explanation. In academic usage, the word theory refers to analytical tools for understanding, explaining, and making predictions in various fields of study:
- Mathematical theory, a self-consistent body of definitions, axioms, theorems, examples, and so on
- Theory (mathematical logic), a set of sentences (theorems) in a formal language
- Scientific theory, a principle or body of principles for explaining observed facts or phenomena, such as cell theory and the theory of gravity
- Philosophical theory, the collective statements underlying a philosophy, school of thought, or belief system
- Literary theory, often just called "theory" by those in the field
- Theories in computer science, such as computational complexity theory, computability theory, and theory of computation
- Theoria in theological discussions
- Theory (clothing retailer)
- A type of argument in Policy debate and Lincoln-Douglas debate
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