Acceptance sampling is an important field of statistical quality control that was originally applied by the U.S military to the testing of bullets during World War II.
If every bullet were tested in advance, no bullets would be left to ship. If, on the other hand, none were wasted, malfunctions might occur on the battlefield, with potentially disastrous results.
Dodge (1998) reasoned that a sample should be picked at random from the lot, and based on information that was yielded by the sample, a decision should be made regarding the disposition of the lot.
In general, the decision is either to accept or reject the lot. This process is called lot acceptance sampling or just acceptance sampling.
The main purpose of acceptance sampling is to decide whether or not the lot is likely to be acceptable, not to estimate the quality of the lot. The plan merely accepts or rejects the lots.
Acceptance sampling is employed when one or several of the following hold:
- Testing is destructive;
- The cost of 100% inspection is very high;
- 100% inspection takes too long.