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What is a Quincunx

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The Quincunx (pronounced quinn-cux) or bead board, as some call it, was developed by a mathematician named Galton in the late1800's. The device works by dropping a series of acrylic balls, or beads, through rows of located pins. Each bead, as it hits a pin, has a 50-50 chance of falling to the left or right. When the beads pass through all the of pins they fall into a slot or cell. The shape of the beads' distribution forms what looks like a bell shaped or 'normal curve'.

As any statistics student will tell you, a large number of populations of data or industrial processes will form what is technically called a 'normal distribution'. A true statistician will also tell you that the bead distribution in a quincunx is actually a 'binomial distribution'. However, since the binomial and normal distributions look so much alike, we are safe in mathematically treating Quincunx distributions as if they are normally distributed.

The real value of the quincunx is in being able to quickly simulate processes or tests that would be impractical to perform in real life. Some people actually refer to the quincunx as a 'factory in box". The quincunx performs two functions, one of generating data, and secondly, visually displaying it along with the tolerances, limits, etc.



 

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