Transderivational search (often abbreviated to TDS) is a psychological and cybernetics term, meaning when a search is being conducted for a fuzzy match across a broad field. In computing the equivalent function can be performed using content-addressable memory.
Unlike usual searches, which look for literal (i.e. exact, logical, or regular expression) matches, a transderivational search is a search for a possible meaning or possible match as part of communication, and without which an incoming communication cannot be made any sense of whatsoever. It is thus an integral part of processing language, and of attaching meaning to communication.
A psychological example of TDS is in Ericksonian hypnotherapy, where vague suggestions are used that the patient must process intensely to find their own meanings for, thus ensuring that the practitioner does not intrude his own beliefs into the subject’s inner world.
Because TDS is a compelling, automatic and unconscious state of internal focus and processing (i.e. a type of everyday trance state), and often a state of internal lack of certainty, or openness to finding an answer (since something is being checked out at that moment), it can be utilized or interrupted, in order to create, or deepen, trance.
TDS is a fundamental part of human language and cognitive processing. Arguably, every word or utterance a person hears, for example, and everything they see or feel and take note of, results in a very brief trance while TDS is carried out to establish a contextual meaning for it.
Although TDS is often associated with spoken language, it can be induced in any perceptual system. Thus Milton Erickson’s “hypnotic handshake” is a technique that leaves the other person performing TDS in search of meaning to a deliberately ambiguous use of touch.