Page 10, 26th June 1964

26th June 1964
Page 10
Page 10, 26th June 1964 — AQUINAS ON THE COMPUTER

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By James O'Neill VATICAN CITY.

pOPF PAUL VI has hailed an experiment to analyse the oritings of St. Thomas Aquinas by means of American-designed computers as a "prodigy" in which science 'and technology arc placed at the service of spiritual studies.

In an audience granted at the weekend to Fr. Roberto Buss. S.J.. and the staff of the Linguistic Data Processing Centre of the Jesuit philosophy hilo ophy faculty at Gallarate, „:,

Fist outside of moan, Pope Paul

recalled that he opened the centre in 1956 while Archbishop of Milan. The audience, eight years later, caps an immense amount of work to try to apply science's latest methods to extracting. sorting and cataloguing not only the words used in all the writings of Si. Thomas, but also those of the Bible. the works of Aristotle, and others.

Fr. Busa, 51, a deceptively youthful-looking Italian scholar, said that "at present research is in progress for theelectronic elaboration of statistical data and the concordance or all the words appearing in the works of 80 writers in three alphabets Latin, Greek and Hebrew and in eight languages. for a total of 2,700,000 lines of text or approximately 15 million words".

The centre at Gallarate currently is working on the analysis of the works of St. Thomas, Aristotle, the Latin Vulgate version of the Bible, and some of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Other centres, which developed out or the pioneering efforts of Fr. Busa's operation, include a Flemish project at the University of Leyden. Holland; Hebrew at Jerusalem, French at Nancy. German analysis of the works of Kant at Bonn, arid other centres at Manchester, England; Utrecht. Holland; and Prague, Czechoslovakia.

SUMMING UP Slimming up the progress made by the centre, Pope Paul declared: "Science and technology, once more co-operating, have offered us a prodigy, while they foreshadow further mysteries. But we are content-and this is the significance of this audience to note that this most modern service places itself at the disposal of learning.

"We are confronted with a phenomenonthe phenomenon or automationi-ohich is in the service of highly spiritual studies through an institution which is pledged to the progress and the honour of Catholic culture."

As it stands today there are five steps to preparation of the material. First is that of pre-editing, that is, locating the word to be processed and preparing it for processing.

Secondly comes the manual perforation of the card. readying it for the next step, which is the first or the computer stens. alphabetising. The fourth step is that of "lemmatisina". A specialist's term dealing with the semantic order of words which assures that the individual words being processed do not have more than one meaning.

The fifth step is to compile the indexes and concordances which are the end product of the whole process. When the analysis of St. Thomas and the others is complete there oill be produced 500 volumes of 500 pages each.

For the works of St Thomas alone, "starting in the summer of 1964 everything will be ready, God willing, for approximately 5,000 hours of electronic elaborationthat is, the final three steps-which will produce the 500 volumes of the entire work."

It is planned to exhibit the results during the second session of the New York World Fair in 1965.

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