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  #51  
Old 02-11-2019, 08:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DPRK View Post
Clepsydra.
But how do you do a digital one and avoid shocks at the same time?

Anyhoo ...

I was thinking about digital roman number clocks and the issues are not good.

The numbers 1-12 can be handled by a 4 character display. But to handle minutes and seconds it's getting pretty bad. 18 is XVIII, 5 symbols right there unless you allow IIXX forms. 38 and 48 are killers in the regular form. XXXVIII and XXXXVIII. 6 and 7 resp. But you could also go with IIL for 48 to top off at 6. So 4+6+6=16 for hours, minutes, seconds. That's a lot.

Then I remembered zero! Uh-oh. Well, that's a problem.

Dear Ancient Folk: If you want a real civilization invent a symbol for zero. De nada.
  #52  
Old 02-11-2019, 09:45 AM
sbunny8 sbunny8 is offline
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IIRC, doctors use roman numerals when writing prescriptions, just one more way to make it harder for the lay person to alter and/or forge a prescription.
  #53  
Old 02-11-2019, 11:06 AM
DesertDog DesertDog is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DPRK View Post
Clepsydra.
I was gonna say flip cards but you got me beat.

Thanks for the link, markn+. I'd been poking around Arduino gear sites and they have a FeatherWing you can plug four 14-segment displays into for a reasonable price, but like tmig, calculated the number of digits XXXVIII would take, leaving a lot of dark most of the time. I quit for a bit before thinking of a matrix.

Last edited by DesertDog; 02-11-2019 at 11:07 AM.
  #54  
Old 02-11-2019, 11:52 AM
dtilque dtilque is online now
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Originally Posted by ftg View Post
The numbers 1-12 can be handled by a 4 character display. But to handle minutes and seconds it's getting pretty bad. 18 is XVIII, 5 symbols right there unless you allow IIXX forms. 38 and 48 are killers in the regular form. XXXVIII and XXXXVIII. 6 and 7 resp. But you could also go with IIL for 48 to top off at 6.
Regular form for 48 is XLVIII, so you don't have to worry about 7 letter numerals.
  #55  
Old 02-11-2019, 11:57 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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Originally Posted by Mangosteen View Post
Are Roman Numerals still taught in schools?

What grade level, in Math or History class?
I learned them when I was about 10 (UK private schools). I'm pretty sure they were taught as part of Roman history rather than mathematics, as we didn't learn how to do arithmetic in Roman notation or anything. We just had to learn what the letters corresponded to, and the conventions for what the position of each letter meant. We also touched on them in Latin, of course.
  #56  
Old 02-11-2019, 12:09 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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I have a notion that we learned about Roman numerals in English or literature class, probably no later than 7th or 8th grade. But I can't say I know for sure. I had taught myself about Roman numerals by the time I was 8 or so when I started noticing them on old clocks and sundials while on family vacation and sightseeing.
  #57  
Old 02-11-2019, 05:15 PM
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Originally Posted by dtilque View Post
Regular form for 48 is XLVIII, so you don't have to worry about 7 letter numerals.
That's another thing about Roman numerals. The whole prefix subtraction thing can get too much and makes it easier to make mistakes.
  #58  
Old 02-11-2019, 06:20 PM
dtilque dtilque is online now
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Originally Posted by ftg View Post
That's another thing about Roman numerals. The whole prefix subtraction thing can get too much and makes it easier to make mistakes.
It's not wrong to not use the prefix substraction. In fact, for much of the Roman Empire, it was not used. I don't know exactly when someone came up with it, but sometime in the Middle Ages. Also, once it was invented, there was lots of variation in its use, much of which would be considered wrong after it got more-or-less standardized. For example IC was sometimes used for 99.
  #59  
Old 02-11-2019, 06:42 PM
DPRK DPRK is offline
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Originally Posted by dtilque View Post
It's not wrong to not use the prefix substraction. In fact, for much of the Roman Empire, it was not used. I don't know exactly when someone came up with it, but sometime in the Middle Ages. Also, once it was invented, there was lots of variation in its use, much of which would be considered wrong after it got more-or-less standardized. For example IC was sometimes used for 99.
In History of Mathematics, David Eugene Smith, we have
Quote:
It is because of the fact that the difficulty is not evident with so simple a number as 4 that the Romans did not commonly use the subtractive principle in this case, preferring the form IIII to the form IV. They used the principle more frequently in the case of 9, but even here they wrote VIIII oftener than IX. In the case of 400 they usually wrote CCCC, but occasionally they used CD. Even as late as the 16th century we often find a number like 1549 written in some such form as Mcccccxxxxviiij.

Relics of the subtractive principle are seen in our tendency to say "ten minutes of (or "to") six" instead of "fifty minutes past five," and to say "a quarter of (or "to") six" rather than "three quarters of an hour past five."

There is a possibility that the Romans avoided IV, the initials of IVPITER, just as the Hebrews avoided יה in writing 15, as the Babylonians avoided their natural form for 19, and as similar instances of reverence for or fear of deity occur in other languages.

Even when the subtractive principle was used, no fixed standard was recognized. The number 19 was commonly written XIX, but not infrequently IXX. We also find IIX for 8 and IIXX for 18, but these were not so common. It is quite rare to find CD for 400 or CM for 900, and forms like MCM and DCD were never used in ancient or medieval times. In general, therefore, it may be said that the Romans recognized the subtractive principle but did not make much use of it.

Occasionally this principle was used with the fraction , for which the Romans wrote the letter S, initial of semis (half). Thus we find SXC for 89 and SXXC for 79.
ETA
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The Roman forms persisted in use, especially outside of Italy, until printed arithmetics made our common numerals widely known. Even at the present time the fishermen of Chioggia, near Venice, use forms that closely resemble those of the early Etruscans, so persistent is custom in the humbler occupations of man.

Last edited by DPRK; 02-11-2019 at 06:47 PM.
  #60  
Old 02-11-2019, 07:59 PM
dtilque dtilque is online now
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Thanks DPRK. I was unaware that the prefix subtraction went back that far. No doubt if we had dates for all the classic Roman texts, we could pinpoint when it was invented. I think it's obvious that Roman numerals originally didn't have it.

I may have been mixing the prefix thing with the use of M = 1000. That I know was a late invention. There was a set of symbols for higher numbers, those from 500 on up, that are not taught in schools today, probably because they weren't in universal usage. But I understand the use of D = 500 comes from this system
  #61  
Old 02-11-2019, 09:03 PM
DPRK DPRK is offline
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Originally Posted by dtilque View Post
Thanks DPRK. I was unaware that the prefix subtraction went back that far. No doubt if we had dates for all the classic Roman texts, we could pinpoint when it was invented. I think it's obvious that Roman numerals originally didn't have it.
You can read about it in the book I referenced:
Quote:
The subtractive principle is found in certain cases like that of IV for 4, that is, 5 - 1. This principle was, as we have seen, used by the Babylonians in the 3d millennium B.C. It was also used by the Hebrews, at least in word forms, but apparently not before the Etruscans and Romans used it. The Etruscans preceded the Romans in recognizing the principle and made a more extensive use of it.
Given especially the Etruscan influence, it seems safe to say (but would require digging through texts to confirm) that the principle was already known pre-classically, so that they did originally have it, but you are right that it was obviously not consistently applied.

Quote:
I may have been mixing the prefix thing with the use of M = 1000. That I know was a late invention. There was a set of symbols for higher numbers, those from 500 on up, that are not taught in schools today, probably because they weren't in universal usage. But I understand the use of D = 500 comes from this system
That, or a couple of other theories mentioned in the book and/or the Wikipedia article. I wonder what the latest research has to say about it...
  #62  
Old 02-11-2019, 10:00 PM
Mangosteen Mangosteen is offline
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At the height of the Roman Empire, how high a number would the Romans have a need to count to? What were they counting?
  #63  
Old 02-11-2019, 10:16 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Originally Posted by Mangosteen View Post
At the height of the Roman Empire, how high a number would the Romans have a need to count to? What were they counting?
Legions, supplies for legions, agricultural production, tax receipts, assets, debts, water supplies, grain storage, distances, ... those are my first guesses
  #64  
Old 02-11-2019, 10:45 PM
Mangosteen Mangosteen is offline
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Did they need a "letter" (number) for 1 million?
  #65  
Old 02-12-2019, 08:09 AM
DesertDog DesertDog is offline
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Originally Posted by dtilque View Post
Regular form for 48 is XLVIII, so you don't have to worry about 7 letter numerals.
Ah, but 38 you're stuck with XXXVIII. I suspect a typo on ftg's part. I was trying to work out a scheme of using both sides of a 14-segment for the Is but that would save only one anyway, and you still have the issue of a lot of dark between I and XXXVIII. The matrix idea is better but trickier to implement.
  #66  
Old 02-12-2019, 11:40 AM
DPRK DPRK is offline
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Did they need a "letter" (number) for 1 million?
Such numbers could easily have been denoted by, e.g., using the apostrophus principle or a vinculum, but we would need palaeographic or epigraphic evidence that such forms were actually used for a million (I have no idea). The engraver of this column did not feel the need to use such a symbol (note that predates the Empire). Elsewhere we find sums of millions and even hundreds of millions of sesterces written out in words, e.g. HS. quater decies = sestertiūm quater decies centena milia = HS. 1400000; HS LX = HS 6000000; in such cases units of 100000 are understood.

That does not really answer the question of whether a Roman banker or accountant might have felt the need to use such a symbol in the course of doing arithmetic. I wonder whether any written scratch-work has survived?

Smith asserts that "The Romans had relatively little need for large numbers, and so they developed no general system for writing them.... What they ordinarily did, if they used numerical symbols at all, was to take some such forms as the following... To represent larger numbers, these forms were repeated."
  #67  
Old 02-12-2019, 02:25 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Waterline marks on some vessels:

https://l7.alamy.com/zooms/3430a58ec...bow-a4c1x1.jpg
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterline#Plimsoll

The latest watercraft to bear a time-honored name:

http://www.commodoresboats.com/wp-co...psy-Blue-4.jpg
http://www.cadenceofthesea.com/wp-co...1/IMG_0494.jpg
http://ianadamsphotography.com/news/...Stern-View.jpg

Vatican City ATMs?: https://www.ptraveler.com/wp-content...a-Traveler.jpg

Quote:
Originally Posted by DesertDog View Post
...I remember seeing the MM copyright dates and thinking how odd they looked....
Mars, Inc. liked the year 2000 very much: https://img0.etsystatic.com/219/0/13...36556_c8ut.jpg

Quote:
Originally Posted by Acsenray View Post
Legions, supplies for legions, agricultural production, tax receipts, assets, debts, water supplies, grain storage, distances, ... those are my first guesses
Tallying Livia's lovers, too.
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