Acknowledgements I take the pleasure to express my warm gratitude to the people who assisted me in accomplishing this work. Foremost I would like to thank my thesis advisor Fred Cohen for his careful guidance, unbelievable patience and enthusiasm and availability at all times. I am also indebted to John Moore for many invaluable hours of private discus- sion. His willingness to listen to my ideas as well as to provide his outstanding mathematical knowledge and critical ear are greatly appreciated. I extend my thanks to Joe Neisendorfer and John Harper for many interesting conversations and useful remarks. I would also like to thank Shiu Wong Dai Ta- maki and Octav Cornea for always being there for a mathematical conversation.
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