A puzzle is fundamentally made up of a device, puzzle piece mechanics and qualities, and theme
When discussing puzzle design we need a consistent way to talk about the aspects of a puzzle. We know a puzzle has pieces with various qualities. We know that a player will use various mechanics to solve a puzzle. We know there's a theme, or story involved. And we kind of know that there are different types of puzzles.
What we want to do is find a way to classify puzzles, and catalog their pieces. To this end we'll define the fundamental aspects of a puzzle.
A puzzle is comprised of the following aspects:
Assume everything in this reference is a working draft, there's prone to be some mistakes and inconsistencies. I figure it's best to publish and get feedback rather than write for years in secret. The terms will change, the structure will shift, and the bugs will be chased out. It'll take a while.