Roman numerals

numbers in the Roman numeral system
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Roman numerals are a numeral system that was used by ancient Rome. Numbers in this system use letters from the Latin alphabet. Currently, it uses seven symbols:[1]

Numeral systems by culture
Hindu–Arabic numerals
Western Arabic
Eastern Arabic
Khmer
Indian family
Brahmi
Thai
East Asian numerals
Chinese
Suzhou
Counting rods
Japanese
Korean 
Alphabetic numerals
Abjad
Armenian
Cyrillic
Ge'ez
Hebrew
Greek (Ionian)
Āryabhaṭa
 
Other systems
Attic
Babylonian
Egyptian
Etruscan
Mayan
Roman
Urnfield
List of numeral system topics
Positional systems by base
Decimal (10)
2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64
1, 3, 9, 12, 20, 24, 30, 36, 60, more…
Symbol I V X L C D M
Value 1 5 10 50 100 500 1,000

The Europeans still used Roman numerals even after the fall of the Roman Empire. From the 14th century, the Europeans replaced Roman numerals with Arabic numerals. However, people still use Roman numerals to this day.

One place they are sometimes seen is on clock faces (the front of a clock). For example, on the clock of Big Ben, the hours from 1 to 12 are written as:

I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII

The IV and IX can be read as "one less than 5" (4) and "one less than 10" (9). On many clocks that use Roman numerals, however, 4 is written as IIII.[2]

Subtraction ruleEdit

Instead of writing the same letter four times, a rule for subtraction is used. The letter is written once, then the next largest Roman numeral is written. When a lower number (such as I) appears before a higher one (such as V), the lower number is subtracted from the higher one. For example, 4 is not written as IIII, but instead as IV, because IV is V (5) minus I (1). The same is done for 9 - it is not written as VIIII, but instead as IX, because IX is X (10) minus I (1).

ExampleEdit

It is very easy to write a number as a Roman numeral. Simply subtract the largest possible Roman numeral as many times as possible from the number. This system will result in a valid Roman numeral, but will not take the subtraction rule into account.

1 × 1000 + 1 × 500 + 4 × 100 + 1 × 50 + 3 × 10 + 4 × 1 = 1984
M + D + CCCC + L + XXX + IIII = MDCCCCLXXXIIII

Getting the number from the numeral is equally simple, by adding the values of the symbols.

In general, the values for 5, 50, and 500 are not subtracted. Here is the same number using the subtraction rule:

1 × 1000 + (1 × 1000) - (1 × 100) + 1 × 50 + 3 × 10 + (1 × 5) - (1 × 1) = 1984
M + CM + L + XXX + IV = MCMLXXXIV

Special valuesEdit

ZeroEdit

The number zero does not have its own Roman numeral. About 725, Bede or one of his colleagues used the letter N, the abbreviation (short form) of nihil (the Latin word for "nothing").[3]

FractionsEdit

 
A semis (S) coin.

The Romans also used fractions. The most common base for fractions was 1/12, which in Latin is called uncia (ounce).

Fraction Numeral Name (nominative and genitive) Meaning
1/12 · Uncia, unciae "Ounce"
2/12 = 1/6 ·· or : Sextans, sextantis "Sixth"
3/12 = 1/4 ··· or Quadrans, quadrantis "Quarter"
4/12 = 1/3 ···· or Triens, trientis "Third"
5/12 ····· or Quincunx, quincuncis "Five-ounce" (quinque unciaequincunx)
6/12 = 1/2 S Semis, semissis "Half"
7/12 Septunx, septuncis "Seven-ounce" (septem unciaeseptunx)
8/12 = 2/3 S·· or S: Bes, bessis "Twice" (as in "twice a third")
9/12 = 3/4 S··· or S∴ Dodrans, dodrantis
or nonuncium, nonuncii
"Less a quarter" (de-quadransdodrans)
or "ninth ounce" (nona uncianonuncium)
10/12 = 5/6 S···· or S∷ Dextans, dextantis
or decunx, decuncis
"Less a sixth" (de-sextansdextans)
or "ten ounces" (decem unciaedecunx)
11/12 S····· or S⁙ Deunx, deuncis "Less an ounce" (de-unciadeunx)
12/12 = 1 I As, assis "Unit"

Large numbersEdit

A number of numeral systems are developed for large numbers that cannot be shown with I, V, X, L, C, D and M.

ApostrophusEdit

One of the systems is the apostrophus,[4] in which D is written as (500) and M is written as CIƆ (1,000).[5] In this system, an extra Ɔ means 500, and multiple extra Ɔs are used to mean 5,000, 50,000 etc.

Numeral CIƆ CIƆƆ IƆƆ CCIƆƆ CCIƆƆƆ CCIƆƆƆƆ IƆƆƆ CCCIƆƆƆ CCCIƆƆƆƆ CCCIƆƆƆƆƆ CCCIƆƆƆƆƆƆ
Value 500 1,000 1,500 5,000 10,000 10,500 15,000 50,000 100,000 100,500 105,000 150,000

VinculumEdit

Another system is the vinculum, in which V, X, L, C, D and M are multiplied by 1,000 by adding an overline.

Numeral V X L C D M
Value 5,000 10,000 50,000 100,000 500,000 1,000,000

UsageEdit

  • In the Baltics and Russia, the days of the week are often written as Roman numerals, with I being Monday.
  • When writing dates by hand, the month is sometimes written as a Roman numeral, especially for dates written in day-month-year sequence. For example: 26.XI.2014 or XI.26.2014 = 26 November 2014.
  • Some games use Roman numerals to indicate the game position in a franchise. The most famous examples are Final Fantasy games (Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII, Final Fantasy X, etc...).
  • When movies or books are published, the year of publication or year of copyright may be written as a Roman numeral.
  • When people write about Monarchs or Popes, Patriarchs, or other leading figures, they are sometimes counted with Roman numbers, e.g. Queen Elizabeth II (of England), Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, Patriarch Alexius II (of the Russian-Orthodox church)
  • In France, the centuries are sometimes written with Roman numerals (example : "XXe siècle" meaning "20th century", XVIIIe siècle = "18th century", etc...).
  • In Poland, roman numerals are used to show the month in dates and as a short method of writing ordinals (i.e. VI instead of 6th).
  • Unicode has a code block called Number Forms, which also contains representations of Roman numerals, at the positions U+2160 to U+2188.

Related pagesEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Gordon, Arthur E. (1982). Illustrated Introduction to Latin Epigraphy. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-05079-7. Alphabetic symbols for larger numbers, such as Q for 500,000, have also been used to various degrees of standardization.
  2. "The Mathematical Tourist : IIII versus IV on Clocks". Ivars Peterson. Retrieved 31 May 2019. Expressed as Roman numerals, the first twelve numbers are usually given as I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII. However, on many clock faces, when the numbers on the dial are in Roman numerals, IIII replaces IV.
  3. C. W. Jones, ed., Opera Didascalica, vol. 123C in Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina.
  4. "Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary".
  5. Asimov, Isaac (1966). Asimov On Numbers (PDF). Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. p. 12.

Other websitesEdit