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A numerical model that identifies the high-leverage variables associated with profitability in semiconductor manufacturing is presented. Varying the parameters of the model demonstrates that a rapid yield-learning rate determines profitability more than any other factor does. Factors such as ramping-up early, adding fab capacity, depressing the terminal fault density, and shrinking die size all yield diminishing returns. The model also suggests that developing a rapid problem-solving capability in the early stages of process development enables successful yield learning.