When planning laboratory synthesis of complex organic compounds, organic chemists, instead of choosing a starting material and then devising a path to convert it to the target compound, consider the target compound and identify an immediate precursor that can be converted to the target compound using a known reaction. The process is continued until a readily available starting material is arrived at. This approach to designing synthesis of organic compounds is known as retrosynthetic analysis. One of the following arrows is used to indicate retrosynthetic analysis.
eg: Gingerol (1) is a constituent of ginger. Its synthesis by the Japanese chemist T. Mukalyama was based on the following retrosynthetic analysis.
Hexanal (2), vanillin (3), and acetone (4) are readily available.