. . . is there an optimal way to design a database table to represent an tree structure ?
You are storing a tree -- which is a hierarchical data structure -- so why not use a hierarchical database such as OpenLDAP or SUN's Directory Server 5.2? Both seem like a good fit for what you are trying to do (though you would have to learn all the jargon, etc.).
I've played with SUN's Directory Server 5.2 a bit but you would probably want to go with OpenLDAP since it is free. There is Net::LDAP on CPAN but if performance is a serious concern you should look into something tailored specificaly to the LDAP server you are using. SUN has perldap (which you can get as part of the directory server resource kit). I have not used OpenLDAP so I am not sure what is availalbe for it.
It might be easier to go with a relational database that you are familiar with instead. But since no one else had mentioned it I thought I would toss the LDAP idea out there for consideration.
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