Encyclopedia of Operations Research and Management Science

2001 Edition
| Editors: Saul I. Gass, Carl M. Harris

Learning curves

  • Andrew G. Loerch
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/1-4020-0611-X_526

With experience and training, individuals and organizations learn to perform tasks more efficiently, reducing the time required to produce a unit of output. This simple and intuitive concept is expressed mathematically through the use of the learning curve.

The learning curve was introduced in the literature by Wright (1936) who observed the learning phenomenon through his study of the construction of aircraft prior to World War II. Since then, these models have been used in the areas of work measurement, job design, capacity planning, and cost estimation in many industries. Yelle (1979) summarized 90 articles dealing with learning curves. Dutton, Thomas, and Butler (1984)traced the history of progress functions by examining 300 articles. They note that the terms “learning curve,” “progress function,” and “experience curve” are often used interchangeably. However, many authors differentiate between them in the following way. Learning curves are used to describe only direct-labor...

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew G. Loerch
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Army AnalysisFort BelvoirUSA