This collection marks the recent resurgence of interest in combinatorial methods, resulting from their deep and diverse applications both in topology and algebraic geometry. Nearly thirty mathematicians met at the University of Rochester in 1982 to survey several of the areas where combinatorial methods are proving especially fruitful: topology and combinatorial group theory, knot theory, 3-manifolds, homotopy theory and infinite dimensional topology, and four manifolds and algebraic surfaces. This material is accessible to advanced graduate students with a general course in algebraic topology along with some work in combinatorial group theory and geometric topology, as well as to established mathematicians with interests in these areas. For both student and professional mathematicians, the book provides practical suggestions for research directions still to be explored, as well as the aesthetic pleasures of seeing the interplay between algebra and topology which is characteristic of this field.
In several areas the book contains the first general exposition published on the subject. In topology, for example, the editors have included M. Cohen, W. Metzler and K. Sauerman's article on "Collapses of $K\times I$ and group presentations" and Metzler's "On the Andrews-Curtis-Conjecture and related problems." In addition, J. M. Montesino has provided summary articles on both 3- and 4-manifolds.