Optimizing UI icons for faster recognition

What makes an icon a valuable addition to the interface, rather than a mere decorative element? Intuitiveness, aesthetic value, memorability, intercultural perception? While an effective icon would combine many of those characteristics, I’d like to focus on one measure–speed of recognition, or how fast a specific icon can be discovered and identified. In a simple leisure app, the difference in speed of recognition may be too subtle to have any noticeable effect on the overall experience. This may be different

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