# Why didn't the Romans do math?

1. Jun 19, 2013

### oahz

1000 years of mathlessness.

what gives?

2. Jun 19, 2013

### Greg Bernhardt

3. Jun 19, 2013

### wukunlin

I suppose if they had to build stuff, like aqueducts, they don't really need maths. Like none whatsoever

4. Jun 19, 2013

### goingmeta

Because theory always precedes practice, right?

5. Jun 19, 2013

### wukunlin

and who uses maths in practice?

6. Jun 19, 2013

### oahz

i know of no math theory attributed to a roman

7. Jun 19, 2013

### collinsmark

Have you ever tried multiplication with Roman numerals?

8. Jun 19, 2013

### res3210

They probs just used algebra and abicusses.

9. Jun 19, 2013

### Office_Shredder

Staff Emeritus
I assume the OP is referring to the fact that the Greeks basically crushed geometry, then got crushed by the Romans, then we have to wait for a whole new religion in Islam to pop up just to figure out what algebra is. I assume it's a combination of the Roman numeral system being just about the worst in the world and the difference in cultures between Greeks and Romans

10. Jun 19, 2013

### Staff: Mentor

Roman contributions to math.

http://accessscience.com/studycenter.aspx?main=17&questionID=5798 [Broken]

Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
11. Jun 19, 2013

### wukunlin

12. Jun 19, 2013

### SW VandeCarr

Try this: (MMDCCXLVII)*(MMCCCXCIV)

They were good at speaking Latin, conquest, building by over-engineering because they couldn't calculate, passing laws, and throwing great parties (not so great if you were a slave)

The Greek math tradition continued at Alexandria during the Roman period.

Last edited: Jun 19, 2013
13. Jun 19, 2013

### collinsmark

And fractions. I'm lead to believe that there wasn't a standard way to represent fractions using the Roman numeral system with more precision that 1/12 (they had some sort of representation for divisions by 12, but I don't know much about that).

I wonder what a fairly precise representation of $\pi$ would look like in the Roman numeral system (something quite a bit more more accurate than III).

Last edited: Jun 19, 2013
14. Jun 19, 2013

### lisab

Staff Emeritus
My thought, too -- what a terrible numeral system. Notation is powerful!

15. Jun 19, 2013

### WannabeNewton

The Romans and Greeks had very different notions of leisure, notions that defined a good part of their cultures. The former was dominated by hedonism whereas the latter was focused a good deal on natural philosophy, amongst other things.

16. Jun 19, 2013

### collinsmark

17. Jun 19, 2013

### WannabeNewton

Haha, classic Python!

18. Jun 19, 2013

### edward

19. Jun 19, 2013

### edward

20. Jun 19, 2013

### Office_Shredder

Staff Emeritus
My favorite quote from that page is
I find it hard to believe that the Romans had a well-defined sense of the difference between mass and weight, and that their units were defined to be in terms of mass, not weight.