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Over the past couple of decades, considerable effort has been directed towards identification of methods to quantify the physical characteristics of imaging systems which are essential to effective use of these systems in medical diagnosis. Results of this effort have provided techniques to characterize imaging variables such as resolution, contrast, low contrast perceptability and noise in a reasonably exact manner, and have facilitated the inter-comparison of imaging systems and techniques in attempts to delineate the most effective approach to a particular imaging application. In applying these quantitative analytic techniques to the imaging process, however, one is confronted with the uncertainty of whether the techniques really characterize the variables of importance to the clinician in his use of the imaging process to arrive at a medical diagnosis.