Performance metrics of every class of semiconductor amplifier or laser system depend critically on semiconductor QW optical properties such as photoluminescence (PL), gain and recombination losses (radiative and nonradiative). Current practice in amplifier or laser design assumes phenomenological parameterized models for these critical optical properties and has to rely on experimental measurement to extract model fit parameters. In this tutorial, I will present an overview of a powerful and sophisticated first-principles quantum design approach that allows one to extract these critical optical properties without relying on prior experimental measurement. It will be shown that an end device L-I characteristic can be predicted with the only input being intrinsic background losses, extracted from cut-back experiments. We will show that textbook and literature models of semiconductor amplifiers and lasers are seriously flawed.