An important function of intelligence analysis has been referred to in recent years as “connecting the dots” (Lahneman, 2006). While this expression is not very definitive, it does provide a general feeling for a skill that is important to the work of the analyst—recognizing and confirming patterns and relationships. A special aspect of this skill is establishing causes and effects that may be vital to understanding a situation, threat, process or set of events—who is sending suicide bombers into the crowded market places of the city, for example. This particular skill is one of recognizing patterns and relationships in the process of building premises that will lead, ultimately, to the development of hypotheses.
A critical task in the intelligence analysis process is the organization of information into premises—summarizing related items of information, results of data integration efforts, and/or information that answers a question into a summary statement that encompasses the central idea (premise) contained in the information. To complete this task successfully, the analyst must be able to recognize the patterns and relationships that serve as a logical basis for premise development.