Pynthantics is the art and science of extracting specific information from a system in useful form. The word is from the Greek pynthan, "to pose a question, and perhaps get an answer". Informally, it is the art and science of asking good questions.
Nobelist Harold Urey was once asked by a reporter, "How did you make all those important discoveries?" Urey replied, "I asked the right questions. If you ask the right question, getting the answer can be straightforward."
As a discipline, it can be regarded as a fourth branch of semiotics, the theory of signs, along with semantics, syntactics, and pragmatics.
It may also be regarded as a formalization of scientific method, which is essentially about the extraction of information from a system in useful form, at an affordable cost. However, it is to be pursued with the aim of eventually automating the process of scientific and engineering discovery, something that may be sooner attainable than the more general problem of enabling a machine to function like a human in a human world.
The term pynthantics was coined by Jon Roland in 1989.
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