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What are Roman numerals?

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Roman numerals are an ancient method of counting. (from Rome, perhaps?)

They are roughly based on the decimal system. Here are some examples:

  • 1 = I
  • 2 = II (two 1's)
  • 3 = III
  • 5 = V
  • 4 = IV (when preceded by a smaller "letter", it is subtracted from the larger, therefore 5 - 1 = 4)
  • 6 = VI (this time it is added)
  • 7 = VII
  • 9 = IX
  • 10 = X
  • 40 = XL
  • 50 = L
  • 100 = C
  • 500 = D
  • 1 000 = M
  • 3 000 = MMM

Subsequent large numbers are represented by a bar which acts as a multiplier by 1000. Multiple bars are also possible.

  • IV = 4 000 (4 × 1000)
  • D = 500 000 000 (500 × 1000 × 1000)

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