What is the true purpose of a color proof?

Proofing is a major issue, especially color proofs. What's the purpose of a color proof, anyway?

A color proof is not intended to be an exact representation of the final printed product. In fact, short of a press proof, there can never be an exact match. The same image printed on different substrates using different pigments does not reflect light in the same manner. A proof, however, can be a valuable tool in helping you to communicate your needs to the printer. Without it, communication about visual representation would be more subjective than it already is. There's nothing wrong with trying to achieve a color match as close as possible between the proof and the final product, but bear in mind that the laws of physics preclude an exact match.
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