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Analysis is the process of breaking a complex topic or substance into smaller parts to gain a better understanding of it. The technique has been applied in the study of mathematics and logic since before Aristotle (384–322 B.C.), though analysis as a formal concept is a relatively recent development.
Some word is from the ancient latin Greek language|Greek]] ἀνάλυσις (analusis, "a breaking up", from ana- "up, throughout" and lysis "a loosening").
As a formal concept, the method has variously been ascribed to Alhazen, René Descartes (Discourse on the Method), and Galileo Galilei. It has also been ascribed to Isaac Newton, in the form of a practical method of physical discovery (which he did not name or formally describe).
The field of chemistry uses analysis in at least three ways: to identify the components of a particular chemical compound (qualitative analysis), to identify the proportions of components in a mixture (quantitative analysis), and to break down chemical processes and examine chemical reactions between elements of matter. For an example of its use, analysis of the concentration of elements is important in managing a nuclear reactor, so nuclear scientists will analyze neutron activation to develop discrete measurements within vast samples. A matrix can have a considerable effect on the way a chemical analysis is conducted and the quality of its results. Analysis can be done manually or with a device. Chemical analysis is an important element of national security among the major world powers with materials measurement and signature intelligence (MASINT) capabilities.
Chemists can use isotope analysis to assist analysts with issues in anthropology, archeology, food chemistry, forensics, geology, and a host of other questions of physical science. Analysts can discern the origins of natural and man-made isotopes in the study of environmental radioactivity.
Analysts in the field of engineering look at requirements, structures, mechanisms, systems and dimensions. Electrical engineers analyze systems in electronics. Life cycles and system failures are broken down and studied by engineers. It is also looking at different factors incorporated within the design.
The field of intelligence employs analysts to break down and understand a wide array of questions. Intelligence agencies may use heuristics, inductive and deductive reasoning, social network analysis, dynamic network analysis, link analysis, and brainstorming to sort through problems they face. Military intelligence may explore issues through the use of game theory, Red Teaming, and wargaming. Signals intelligence applies cryptanalysis and frequency analysis to break codes and ciphers. Business intelligence applies theories of competitive intelligence analysis and competitor analysis to resolve questions in the marketplace. Law enforcement intelligence applies a number of theories in crime analysis.
Linguistics began with the analysis of Sanskrit and Tamil; today it looks at individual languages and language in general. It breaks language down and analyzes its component parts: theory, sounds and their meaning, utterance usage, word origins, the history of words, the meaning of words and word combinations, sentence construction, basic construction beyond the sentence level, stylistics, and conversation. It examines the above using statistics and modeling, and semantics. It analyzes language in context of anthropology, biology, evolution, geography, history, neurology, psychology, and sociology. It also takes the applied approach, looking at individual language development and clinical issues.
Literary theory is the analysis of literature. Some say that literary criticism is a subset of literary theory. The focus can be as diverse as the analysis of Homer or Freud. This is mainly to do with the breaking up of a topic to make it easier to understand.
Mathematical analysis is the study of infinite processes. It is the branch of mathematics that includes calculus. It can be applied in the study of classical concepts of mathematics, such as real numbers, complex variables, trigonometric functions, and algorithms, or of non-classical concepts like constructivism, harmonics, infinity, and vectors.
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