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Harold F. Dodge

Harold F. Dodge

Sampling was his forte, simplicity his creed

Harold F. Dodge was one of the principal architects of the science of statistical quality control. He is universally known for his work in originating acceptance sampling plans for putting inspection operations on a scientific basis in terms of controllable risks.

The Dodge-Romig Sampling Inspection Tables, developed with Harry G. Romig in the early 1930s and published in 1940, are the most prominent reminder of Dodge's pioneering work. But over the course of his long and productive career, there was a huge volume of work, much of which dates to his tenure in the quality assurance department at Bell Laboratories from 1917 to 1958. In that stimulating environment, Dodge worked with Walter Shewhart, George Edwards, Harry Romig, R.L. Jones, Paul Olmstead, E.G.D. Paterson, and Mary N. Torrey, developing the basic concepts of acceptance sampling, such as consumer's risk, producer's risk, double sampling, lot tolerance percent defective (LTPD), and average outgoing quality limit (AOQL). He originated several types of acceptance sampling schemes, CSP type continuous sampling plans, chain sampling plans, and skip-lot sampling plans.

During World War II, Dodge served as a consultant to the Secretary of War, and was chairman of the American Standards Association (now the American National Standards Institute) War Committee Z1, which prepared the Z1.1, Z1.2, and Zl.3 quality control standards. In the words of Eugene L. Grant, Dodge "was not only the moving spirit in keeping the committee at work but he himself did a large amount of the actual writing." Dodge was one of a small group that developed Army Ordnance standard sampling tables, and he was an instructor in more than 30 quality control training conferences for Army Ordnance. He chaired the ASQ Standards Committee for many years, and was chairman of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Committee E-11 on statistical methods.

Of his early experiences Dodge wrote:

There have been several things of special interest in my work in this field over the years. It all goes back to the beginnings of statistical quality control in 1924. Our work in cooperation with shop engineers was influenced heavily by great pressures to save money and to make the quality control methods simple and easy to use.

Initially, the basic procedures for variables called for samples of four, with one chart for the average, X, and another for the standard deviation, o. Shop reaction was prompt against anything as complicated as computing the standard deviation. After some study we proposed the use of the range, R. On top of that we proposed shop use of samples of five instead of four; it is easier to divide by five than by four. These simplifying steps quickly became the basis for shop practice.

In all of these areas, there was one thing that seemed to stand out, and it was this: If you want a method or system used, keep it simple!

After retiring from Bell Laboratories in 1958, Dodge became professor of applied mathematical statistics at the Statistics Center of the Graduate School at Rutgers, a position he held until 1970. He was a quality assurance consultant to NASA in 1961 and 1962, and a consultant for the Sandia Corp. from 1958 through 1967.

Dodge held several patents on telephone instruments and electrical stethoscopes. He authored a number of articles on analysis of heart and lung sounds, in addition to his dozens of articles on sampling inspection and quality control in technical publications.

Born in Lowell, MA, in 1893, Dodge earned a degree in electrical engineering from The Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1916 and a master's degree in physics and math from Columbia in 1922. He was a fellow of the American Statistical Association, the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, and the Royal Statistical Society. ASTM honored him with the Award of Merit in 1950 and named him its Marburg Lecturer in 1954 and an honorary member in 1968.

One of the most honored of all ASQ members, Dodge was the second recipient of the Shewhart Medal (1949), sixth recipient of the Grant Award (1972), and fifth Honorary member (1965). He was also a Fellow and founding member of the Society.

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