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I am pleased to participate in this Summer School and look forward to sharing some ideas with you over the next few days. At the outset I would like to describe the approach I will take in 1 presenting the material. I aim to present the material in a non rigorous way and hopefully in an intuitive manner. At the same time I will draw attention to some of the major technical problems. It is pitched at someone who is unfamiliar with the area. The results presented here are unfamiliar to actuaries and insurance mathematicians although they are well known in some other fields. During the next few minutes I will make some preliminary comments. The purpose of these comments is to place the lectures in perspective and motivate the upcoming material. After this I will outline briefly the topics to be covered during the rest of this lecture and in the lectures that will follow. One of the central themes of these lectures is RISK-SHARING. Risk-sharing is a common response to uncertainty. Such uncertainty can arise from natural phenomena or social causes. One particular form of risk-sharing is the insurance mechanism. I will be dealing with models which have a natural application in the insurance area but they have been applied in other areas as well. In fact some of the paradigms to be discussed have the capacity to provide a unified treatment of problems in diverse fields.