Analysis is the process of breaking a complex topic or substance into smaller parts in order 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.
The word comes from the Ancient Greek ἀνάλυσις (analysis, "a breaking-up" or "an untying;" from ana- "up, throughout" and lysis "a loosening"). From it also comes the word's plural, analyses.
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).