Roman numerals are a numeral system that originated in ancient Rome and remained the usual way of writing numbers throughout Europe well into the Late Middle Ages. Numbers in this system are represented by combinations of letters from the Latin alphabet. Modern usage employs seven symbols, each with a fixed integer value:
The use of Roman numerals continued long after the decline of the Roman Empire. From the 14th century on, Roman numerals began to be replaced in most contexts by the more sophisticated Arabic numerals; however, this process was gradual, and the use of Roman numerals persists in some minor applications to this day.
One place they are often seen is on clock faces. For instance, on the clock of Big Ben (designed in 1852), the hours from 1 to 12 are written as:I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII
The notations IV and IX can be read as “one less than five” (4) and “one less than ten” (9), although there is a tradition favoring representation of “4” as “IIII” on Roman numeral clocks.
Other common uses include year numbers on monuments and buildings and copyright dates on the title screens of movies and television programs. MCM, signifying “a thousand, and a hundred less than another thousand”, means 1900, so 1912 is written MCMXII. For the years of this century, MM indicates 2000. The current year is MMXX (2020).wikipedia.org
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