Of the myriad of compounds associated with life that have been detected, only a small fraction have been identified, much less understood. For example, state-of-the-art proteomic analysis, although extremely powerful, is not yet able to reveal the identities of proteoforms at scale. Similarly, only a relatively small fraction of the detectable small endogenous molecules comprising the metabolome have known structures. The ability to identify and characterize these molecules is an essential scientific challenge. Progress on these problems will be made by developing new methods of identifying complex molecules at sufficient bandwidth to enable real-time identification--a challenge that requires advanced instrumentation with unprecedented sensitivity, throughput, and spectral resolution.