Roberto Busa (November 28, 1913 – August 9, 2011) was an Italian
Jesuit priest and one of the pioneers in the usage of computers for
linguistic and literary analysis. He was the author of the Index
Thomisticus, a complete lemmatization of the works of Saint Thomas
Aquinas and of a few related authors.
Roberto Busa - 2006 - In the background the Index Thomisticus
2 The Index Thomisticus
3 The Busa Prize
4 Recent projects
6 External links
Born in Vicenza, the second of five children, he attended primary
Bolzano and grammar school in
Verona and in Belluno. In 1928
he entered the Episcopal Seminary of Belluno, completing high school
there, and took the first two-year course of Theology with Albino
Luciani, the future Pope John Paul I. In 1933 he joined the Society of
Jesus, where he got a diploma in Philosophy in 1937 and one in
Theology in 1941 and where he was ordained priest in 1940. From 1940
till 1943 he was an auxiliary army chaplain in the National Army and
later in the partisan forces. In 1946 he graduated in Philosophy at
Gregorian University of Rome with a degree thesis entitled
"The Thomistic Terminology of Interiority", which was published in
1949. He was full professor of Ontology,
Theodicy and Scientific
Methodology and, for some years, a librarian in the "Aloisianum"
Faculty of Philosophy of Gallarate.
The Index Thomisticus
In 1946 he planned the Index Thomisticus, as a tool for performing
text searches within the massive corpus of Aquinas's works. In 1949 he
met with Thomas J. Watson, the founder of IBM, and was able to
persuade him to sponsor the Index Thomisticus. The project lasted
about 30 years, and eventually produced in the 1970s the 56 printed
volumes of the Index Thomisticus. In 1989, a CD-ROM version was
produced. In addition, in 2005 a web-based version made its debut,
sponsored by the Fundación Tomás de Aquino and CAEL; the design and
programming of this version were carried about by E. Alarcón and E.
Bernot, in collaboration with Busa. In 2006 the Index Thomisticus
Treebank project (directed by Marco Passarotti) started the syntactic
annotation of the entire corpus.
The Busa Prize
Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations (ADHO) awards the
"Busa Prize", which honors leaders in the field of humanities
computing. The first Busa Prize was awarded in 1998 to Busa himself.
Later winners include:
John Burrows (Australia) (presented in 2001, New York, New York, USA)
Susan Hockey (UK) (presented in 2004, Gothenburg, Sweden)
Wilhelm Ott (Germany) (2007, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA)
Joseph Raben (USA) (2010, Kings College London, UK)
Willard McCarty (UK) (2013, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)
Helen Agüera (USA) (2016, Kraków, Poland)
Before his death, Busa had been teaching at the Papal Gregorian
University in Rome, at the "Aloisianum" Faculty of Philosophy in
Gallarate, and at the Catholic Sacred Heart University in Milan. He
was also working at the LTB project (LTB stands for Bicultural
Thomistic Lexicon), which aims at understanding the Latin concepts
used by Thomas Aquinas in the terms of contemporary culture.
^ "Pioneering the computational linguistics and the largest published
work of all time". IBM. Archived from the original on 2012-03-27.
^ Thomas N. Winter, « Roberto Busa, S.J., and the Invention of
the Machine-Generated Condordance », Digital commons, University
of Nebraska 
^ "Stop the reader, Fr. Busa has died". L'Osservatore Romano.
Roberto Busa Prize". The Alliance of Digital Humanities
Organizations. Retrieved 2013-08-16.
^ "ADHO Announces the Winner of the 2016 Busa Prize". The Alliance of
Digital Humanities Organizations. Retrieved 2017-02-11.
Web-based Index Thomisticus search engine
Index Thomisticus Treebank
Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing - Honorary Members
Digital Humanities WebHome
Religion: Sacred Electronics Time Magazine, Dec. 31, 1956.
ISNI: 0000 0001 1774 2383
BNF: cb12033883h (data)