Imagine we could travel back in time 20,000 years. We would find ourselves in the middle of a stone-age landscape. The reason we call it stone age is because stone was the most important resource for the early humans. If we could walk into a typical hunter's hut (or caveman's cave), we would certainly find spears with sharpened stone points. These spears were used by our early ancestors to hunt many large animals, including mammoths. Of course, hunting mammoths was a dangerous business, and in many cases, the spear would not penetrate mammoth's skin.

Over time, though, a different breed of hunters developed. These hunters would stretch and hang the skin of a previously killed mammoth on the wall and engage in strange cabalistic rituals. They danced, chanted incantations and threw the spears at the wall. All the time, they observed which spear, thrown from which angle and distance, and accompanied by which dance and incantation, penetrated the mammoth's skin the best. What they learned was incredibly useful to make better spears; it also helped develop hunting strategies that best accommodated deficiencies of the existing weapons. These rituals were the earliest examples of quality assessment.

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