Databases: Intentions, Capabilities, and Limitations

  • Pål Møller
  • Sigve Nakken
  • Eivind Hovig


Computers may be used to hold, retrieve, and manipulate data. However, for each task they have to be instructed exactly what to do, and many tasks, such as interpreting human language, still await perfection. To be analyzed by computers, the data require formatting as required for efficient computation. This is often achieved in the form of a database. Also, computer instructions for computations are often provided by dedicated computer languages for increased efficiency in converting human instructions into computation, based on ready access to the data on which computations are to be performed. In principle, the design of a database to a purpose (intention) by definition declares the capabilities and limitations of the database. This chapter is meant as a general comment for the biologist, as to some use of database principles within the field of heritable cancer and mentions some relevant principles, strengths, and weaknesses in the design and use of such databases.


Database Research Structure Capabilities Limitations Relational database Typecasting Formatting 


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    All websites mentioned were downloaded February 2017.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pål Møller
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Sigve Nakken
    • 2
  • Eivind Hovig
    • 2
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Research Group on Inherited Cancer, Department of Medical GeneticsThe Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo University HospitalOsloNorway
  2. 2.Department of Tumor BiologyInstitute of Cancer Research, The Norwegian Radium Hospital, Part of Oslo University HospitalOsloNorway
  3. 3.Surgical Center for Hereditary Tumors, HELIOS University Clinic WuppertalUniversity Witten-HerdeckeWuppertalGermany
  4. 4.Institute of Cancer Genetics and Informatics, The Norwegian Radium Hospital, Part of Oslo University HospitalOsloNorway
  5. 5.Department of InformaticsUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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