Megan McArdle writes about the importance of accounting. Recently, I was surprised to learn that knowledge of basic accounting was in fact not as widespread as I thought. Specifically, I had no idea that one could specialize in economics without being taught even the basics of accounting.
I think that double entry bookkeeping is a lot like the decimal system (or, more accurately, the place-value numbering system). Because everyone uses the decimal method, one would find it difficult to imagine any complex mathematics being done without it. But it is in fact possible – an incredible amount of geometry and algebra was done before the introduction of the decimal method. The decimal method just made many things a lot easier. DE bookkeeping is like that.