Patterns are the recurring solutions to the problems of design. People learn patterns by seeing them and recall them when need be without a lot of effort. Patterns link together in the mind so that one pattern leads to another and another until familiar problems are solved. That is, patterns form languages, not unlike natural languages, within which the human mind can assemble correct and infinitely varied statements from a small number of elements.
Here are some interesting links on this topic:
- Martin Fowler Articles (not just Analysis Patters, but also agile methods, design, etc.)