I've been assigned to design an icon (or logo) for our API (Application Programming Interface). In programming, an API allows programmers/developers to access, or "hook into" functionality located on another system or platform. In this case, our API checks a small amount of text (1-3 lines) against a master list with certain criteria and returns results.
I've been struggling for a few days now to come up with a solid concept that's simple and clear. For example, I've been fiddling with gear-shaped things to represent some sort of mechanical function. You put in something and we give back something valuable. Also in our graphics library is a "check" icon, because we perform validation and standardization to the data given to us. We're fairly flexible how we want this to look and feel.
What symbols or figures would go well in an icon to simply, clearly convey this idea?