- May 2015
Because the set of operations on a tree is well understood in computer science, this models a single neuron well enough to enable questions like "Find the diameter distribution of the third-order branches of those Purkinje neurons that have more than one primary branch". Unlike searching on descriptive attributes, which requires access to an explicit representation in the schema, a user can potentially query for any property that can be computed from a tree structure.
One of my greatest disappointments in the CCDB was that we never fully implemented the unique data types in the production database. They remained, unfortunately, just demonstrations. I learned a valuable lesson about using technology that was experimental (I think it was a new feature in Oracle) and in working with computer scientists. Computer scientists need to develop new cutting edge technology for their career advancement; they are less interested in all the hard work that goes into implementing these features in a production system. But biologists need stability. I no longer make this mistake, but it was a hard lesson to learn!