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cobra, name for African and Asian snakes of the family Elapidae that are equipped with inflatable neck hoods. The family also includes the African mambas, the Asian kraits, the New World coral snakes and a large number of Australian snakes. All members of the family are poisonous and have short, rigid fangs attached at the front of the mouth. Cobras are found in most of Africa and in S Asia. They are nocturnal hunters, and most feed on small mammals, birds, and frogs. Females of all but one species lay eggs. The hood, which serves as a warning device, consists of loose skin around the neck; when the snake is excited it spreads the hood by extending the underlying long, movable ribs, and inflating it with air from the lungs. The king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah), or hamadryad, largest of all venomous snakes, is found in S Asia; it may reach a length of 18 ft (5.5 m) and feeds chiefly on other snakes. The Indian cobra (Naja naja), a common snake of the same region, is usually 4 to 5 ft (1.2–1.6 m) long; its large hood is marked on the back by a pattern of figures resembling eyes. It preys on rats and is therefore often found in houses. The Indian cobra and the Egyptian cobra (Naja haja) are often displayed by snake charmers. The cobras appear to respond to the music played by the charmer, but, like all snakes, they are deaf and only follow the movements of the charmer. As cobras do not strike accurately during the day, charmers are seldom bitten. Most cases of snakebite from cobras occur when humans walking barefoot at night disturb the animal. Cobra venom is not as toxic as that of some other members of the family; the fatality rate among human victims is thought to be about 10%. Some African cobras can eject a spray of venom through the openings of the fangs, aiming accurately to a distance of at least 6 ft (1.8 m). Among these is the ringhals (Hemachatus hemachatus) of S Africa, which aims the spray at the eyes of the victim, causing great pain and sometimes blindness. The ringhals is the only cobra that bears live young. Cobras are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Reptilia, order Squamata, family Elapidae.
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(vertebrate zoology)
Any of several species of venomous snakes in the reptilian family Elaphidae characterized by a hoodlike expansion of skin on the anterior neck that is supported by a series of ribs.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


bite believed to mean certain death. [Folklore: Jobes, 352]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. any highly venomous elapid snake of the genus Naja, such as N. naja (Indian cobra), of tropical Africa and Asia. When alarmed they spread the skin of the neck region into a hood
2. any related snake, such as the king cobra
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


Do you mean CORBA? Or is there a COBRA?
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (


(Common Object Request Broker Architecture) A software-based interface from the Object Management Group (OMG) that allows software modules (objects) to communicate with each other on a private network or the global Internet. CORBA is a "distributed objects" system designed for multi-tier, client/server applications, where processing data in one computer requires additional processing by some other service in another computer. CORBA is also described as an "object bus" or "software bus." As of 2020, CORBA is used in legacy systems but is not implemented for new ones. See distributed objects.

DCOM and Web Services
Microsoft's counterpart to CORBA was its COM-based Distributed COM (DCOM) architecture (see COM and DCOM). COM/CORBA interoperability is required to integrate Windows desktops into a CORBA-based system.

Although CORBA and DCOM achieved some success, Web services on the Internet are far more triumphant. CORBA software from different vendors did not always interoperate at all levels, and DCOM is Windows only (see Web services).

Part of the OMA
CORBA is the communications component of the Object Management Architecture (OMA), which defines other elements such as naming services, security and transaction services. However, CORBA is the common umbrella term.

Client/Server Requests
At runtime, a CORBA client makes a request to a remote object via an ORB (Object Request Broker), and the ORB creates the illusion that the remote object is local.

The client calls a CORBA operation by sending a GIOP (General Inter-ORB Protocol) message to the server ORB, which returns a GIOP reply. Finally, the client ORB converts the reply into a normal object for the client application. When sent over TCP/IP, GIOP is called "IIOP" (Internet Inter-ORB Protocol). Orbix and VisiBroker are examplesof commercial ORBs.

The Interface Definition Language (IDL)
CORBA objects are defined by an Interface Definition Language (IDL) that describes the processing (methods) and the data sent and returned. IDL compilers for languages such as C, C++, Java, Smalltalk and COBOL let programmers use familiar constructs. IDL definitions stored in an Interface Repository can be queried by a client application to determine which objects are available on the bus.

CORBA Versions
The first version of CORBA supported C. CORBA 2 added C++, Java and GIOP. CORBA 3 added Internet firewall support, quality of service (QoS) and CORBAcomponents, a high-level interface to services such as Enterprise JavaBeans (EJBs). See POA and servant.

One Program Calls Another
The basic concept is simple: one program calls upon another for its services no matter where it is located. CORBA provides a messaging environment for executing remote objects written in multiple languages running on different platforms.

Remote Procedure Calls
RPCs, which have been around for some time, are similar to CORBA, although not as comprehensive. They tend to support one programming language and one platform.

CORBA Object Creation
CORBA objects are created by compiling IDL definitions into the client and server code. The resulting applications communicate with each other via the CORBA bus using the GIOP or IIOP protocols.
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