Roman Code
(page 34)

I recently received a whoel slew of solutions, evidently from a single class (or a single teacher) in Australia. The solutions are similar, so I won't write them all, but let me acknowledge the authors: Gary MacPherson, Elise Bell, Paul Wallace, Tracey Davidson, Laura Hendry, "Kathryn," Julie Rice, and Geoffrey Harris. Of course, I'd have loved to see the reasoning.

Now, while they were similar, they were not identical. Here is one kind, Elise Bell's:

The answers I found were:

1. ET + T=EA - IV+V=IX
2. AR + R=R - XC + X=C
4. TS X A=EA - XI X V=LV

Elise Bell

In contrast, here is another one:


ET+T=EA    =  iv+v=ix
AR+A=R = ix+i=x
RS-T=ARTS = ci-v=xcvi
TS*A=EA = vi*x=lx

Is one of them correct? Are they BOTH correct? If you think one is wrong, what assumprions (or misconceptions) is the "wrong" person using?

Here's a solution from a teacher in Midlothian, Virginia:

Bryan in our eighth grade math class at Midlothian Virginia solved the Roman Code (p. 34) after our class had worked on it together for about 20 minutes. Beginning with the RS - T = ARTS clue and finding two answers, Bryan applied each answer to the others and discovered the following solution:

A = X

R = C

T = V

S = I

E = L

Thanks for the opportunity to share the answer with you.


Ed Hockenberry

Congratulations to Bryan; I take it that since the teacher wrote, the students have no access to e-mail. And I trust that Bryan's work was somehow informed by the group work that preceded it.

From what I can read into this solution, a really important part of the strategy was realizing that sometimes you can figure out several answers from one clue (or a set of clues). It may not be obvious how the other clues fit in. At that point, you can just plug in the various possible solutions you already have and eliminate the ones that don't work.

Sometimes you can eliminate all but one, and you're done. Other times, that work helps you see how all of the clues fit together.

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