Scientists and technologists in industry complain about being subjected to accountants, but, as Mark Twain would point out, they do nothing about it. In self-defense they learn to read balance sheets and to use the jargon of accountants, but they regard these as being trivial matters not worthy of serious thought. They therefore pay little or no attention to the assumptions that are buried deep below practice and of which accountants themselves seldom are conscious—assumptions that, to a scientist or technologist, are grossly out of date. These assumptions are based on a model of a company that is set up to manufacture or supply a product that remains unchanged both in itself and in the method by which it is manufactured for an indefinite (presumably infinite) life.

Yet companies that want to stay in business must continually introduce new products and constantly update the methods by which they produce and...

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