Tiling or tessellation is the covering of a surface with the repeated use of the same shape tile. A typical example is the tiling in a bathroom. In Inkscape, this concept is expanded to include a multitude of options including progressively changing the tile size, spacing, and orientation.
The tiles are in reality just clones of the source tile or object. Thus the same methods that apply to clones apply to tiles. (See the section called Clones in Chapter 4, Editing Basics.)
While random use of the Tile Clones dialog can produce exquisite patterns, it is useful to understand the fundamentals of tessellation in order to have more control over the final design.