Getting Back to Quality's Roots

Einstein was wrong. God does play dice with the universe.

In developing his theories of how the cosmos functions, the great physicist was uncomfortable with probabilities being part of the explanation. And that led him to reject the idea of a divinely determined role for randomness.

Physicists and theoretical mathematicians may argue this point till Einstein's great time-space continuum curves back to where it all started. But for the quality practitioner, it is quite clear that chance is woven into every aspect of existence.

Whether it's a dice-playing deity or just the way things are, variation is a constant. While that sounds paradoxical, it has proven to be one of the most durable and effective insights of quality theory. By understanding the behavior of variation and learning to identify its source, the quality professional has contributed enormously to improving our world.

The framework for understanding variation--random or otherwise--is statistics, and in recognition of the importance of statistical analysis Quality Progress has long featured a regular column on this topic. It's been one of our most popular features, but we don't think it is enough. Writing about the analysis of data without talking about the gathering of data has created a gap in our coverage.

To start closing that gap, I am happy to announce that Philip Stein has agreed to contribute a bimonthly column on metrology. Phil, former chairman of ASQ's Measurement Quality Division, is a creative thinker and an engaging writer, and we are delighted to welcome him to the magazine. The first installment of this column, which Phil has aptly named "Measure for Measure," appears on p. 74.

This is part of a new emphasis we're placing on some of the traditional topics from the hard side of quality. Also this month we're publishing Thomas Pearson's discussion of metrology and the knowledge revolution, Amy Zuckerman's analysis of the push for self-declaration in lab testing and an entire QP Toolbox devoted to new measurement related products.

Rest assured--these changes in editorial direction are not random. They are based on our analysis of trends in the quality field, including feedback from readers. They have told us that we need to go back to basics and spend more time covering core quality topics. If this means that we have to recognize that some of  our efforts in the past may have been a little misguided, we will do so.

After all, if Einstein could make a mistake, then certainly editors can, too. 

Miles Maguire
MAGUIRE, M. tiff

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