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 October 31st, 2015, 09:51 AM #1 Senior Member     Joined: Nov 2010 From: Indonesia Posts: 2,001 Thanks: 132 Math Focus: Trigonometry 4 = iiii? Several days ago I read an encyclopedia about Weather and Season, and there was an image of a sundial using Roman numerals on it. On the sundial, the number 4 wasn;t written as IV, but IIII. Initially I thought that the writing system of Roman numerals in its early age didn't allow us to substract with the left numbers. Strangely, when I read in the place of the number 9, it was still written as IX and not VIIII. How could it be like this?
 October 31st, 2015, 09:58 AM #2 Math Team   Joined: Dec 2013 From: Colombia Posts: 7,675 Thanks: 2655 Math Focus: Mainly analysis and algebra In Renaissance France, King Louis XIV(?) preferred the more balanced look of clocks showing IIII instead of IV. The look quickly became standard.
November 1st, 2015, 07:35 AM   #3
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 Originally Posted by v8archie In Renaissance France, King Louis XIV(?) preferred the more balanced look of clocks showing IIII instead of IV. The look quickly became standard.
it's good to be King

 November 1st, 2015, 12:06 PM #4 Global Moderator     Joined: Nov 2006 From: UTC -5 Posts: 16,046 Thanks: 938 Math Focus: Number theory, computational mathematics, combinatorics, FOM, symbolic logic, TCS, algorithms As previously alluded to, the Romans didn't use subtractive notation, that was a medieval innovation. Further, the rule that whenever you can subtract you should (though only one 'step' down) is even more modern. So the preference of clock-makers -- for which I've heard the same explanation, that the appearance is more balanced -- is not surprising to me.
 November 1st, 2015, 06:52 PM #5 Senior Member     Joined: Nov 2010 From: Indonesia Posts: 2,001 Thanks: 132 Math Focus: Trigonometry But... weren't sundials invented way before clocks?
 November 1st, 2015, 07:17 PM #6 Math Team   Joined: Dec 2013 From: Colombia Posts: 7,675 Thanks: 2655 Math Focus: Mainly analysis and algebra Invented, yes. But they were made since the invention of the clock too. And the aesthetic argument would hold for both.
 November 10th, 2015, 09:20 AM #7 Member   Joined: Jun 2015 From: Ohio Posts: 99 Thanks: 19 This is very helpful. I always thought the person who made the clock in my living room made a mistake. Lol
 November 11th, 2015, 10:19 PM #8 Newbie   Joined: Nov 2015 From: Texas Posts: 4 Thanks: 0 Math Focus: Algebra Kings are rule-makers... it's good to rule and make new rules. Last edited by skipjack; November 12th, 2015 at 02:10 AM.

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