Scaling Synthesis

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Compression facilitates synthesis

Last updated March 17, 2023

Authored By:: Joel Chan

Synthesis is creating a new whole out of component parts. But what should the “parts” look like? What kinds of building blocks would facilitate synthesis?

One important dimension of conceptual building blocks for synthesis is “size.

Intuitively, having building blocks that are too “large” or complex would make reassembly into a new whole impractical or impossible. Thus, the most basic requirement for synthesis is having appropriate(ly sized) building blocks to start with.

There are a few ways to think about size and why it matters for synthesis.

It is important to distinguish atomicity from compression - in creative thought, it is less about decomposition in the atomic and disconnected sense, and more about flexibly using compression to move between different levels and states of “granularity”.

We might wonder: if we break complex documents down in a [synthesis] [infrastructure], what should the component parts look like? What defines an “idea” level, or an appropriately “small” building block for scholarly synthesis?

Unfortunately, Most scholarly communication infrastructure operates on the document as the base unit