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The Quest for Imperfection

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williamlweaver
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Functional Build
williamlweaver   3/29/2012 1:00:43 PM
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Thanks for this @Chuck! Powerful stuff. I will be using this as a case study in my courses immediately. It contains all of the Systems Thinking concepts applied in a single, well defined situation. We have so many examples of the "functional build" in our culture, that it is difficult to imagine why it is not utilized more in our design and manufacturing community. "The Bad News Bears", "The Dirty Dozen", "Force 10 from Navarone", more recently, "Moneyball", the list continues. The quality and utility of a well designed system far exceeds a loose collection of perfect parts -- which is why the World Series is always more exciting than the All-Star game.

In my particular area of Laser Spectroscopy, several oscillation systems were always required to operate in concert for success. If optimization was approached linearly, step, by step, the system would NEVER work. Either the optimized configuration of the first oscillator was incompatible with the unoptimized configuration of the second oscillator or by the time the second oscillator was optimized, the first oscillator had fallen back out of tolerance. Only by coarsely adjusting all components of the system to get a tiny output could you then go back and optimize in parallel to bring the entire system up in concert -- exactly why it is taking years to bring the LHC up to full design power. Seven years after your awesome article, I don't know if we are any closer.


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