Roman numerals

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Roman numerals stem from the numeral system of ancient Rome. They are based on certain letters of the alphabet which are combined to signify the sum (or, in some cases, the difference) of their values. The first ten Roman numerals are:

The Roman numeral system is decimal[1] but not directly positional and does not include a zero. It is a cousin of the Etruscan numerals, and the letters derive from earlier non-alphabetical symbols; over time the Romans came to identify the symbols with letters of the Latin alphabet. The system was modified slightly during the Middle Ages to produce the system used today.

Roman numerals are commonly used in numbered lists (such as the outline format of an article), clock faces, pages preceding the main body of a book, chord triads in music analysis, dated notices of copyright, months of the year, successive political leaders or children with identical names, and the numbering of annual events.

Contents

Symbols

Roman numerals are based on seven symbols: a stroke (identified with the letter I) for a unit, a chevron (identified with the letter V) for a five, a cross-stroke (identified with the letter X) for a ten, a C (identified as an abbreviation of Centum) for a hundred, etc.:

Symbols are iterated to produce multiples of the decimal (1, 10, 100, 1,000) values, with V, L, D substituted for a multiple of five, and the iteration continuing: I "1", II "2", III "3", V "5", VI "6", VII "7", etc., and the same for other bases: X "10", XX "20", XXX "30", L "50", LXXX "80"; CC "200", DCC "700", etc. At the fourth iteration, a subtractive principle may be employed, with the base placed before the higher base: IIII or IV "4", VIIII or IX "9", XXXX or XL "40", LXXXX or XC "90", CCCC or CD "400", DCCCC or CM "900".

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