I would like to first acknowledge my advisor, Professor Mari Ostendorf. This thesis would not have been possible without her constant guidance and encouragement. The last year and a half with her have been a very productive period in my research. I would like to acknowledge my readers, Dr. Lev Levitin and Dr. Robin Rohlicek, whose insightful suggestions and ideas have made this a much better thesis. I would like to thank Cheryl Kelly, Linda Hession and Phyllis Doheny who made the paperwork and other formalities a great deal more easier than it could have been. It has been a great pleasure to work with my other colleagues in SPILAB. I would like to thank Ashvin and Owen for introducing me to a more organized coding style, Fred and Sanjay for helping me find the bugs which did and did not exist, and all my labmates for patiently hearing out my "I-am-burnt-out " cribs after a crazy day of hacking. I would also like to thank them for helping me improve on my presentations, especially Orith, Fred and Sanjay who have borne the brunt of my "practice-sessions". I am looking forward to a couple of more years with them. I wouldn't like to leave out the SPILAB machines, especially lark and oriole, who have been my long standing companions for the last year and a half. I would like to acknowledge my friends Sanjai Singh, Mani Ramamurthy and Abha Chandra for a fun-filled two years in this country. Thanks Sanjai, for the million times I have needed your help, and all the happy times that we have shared together. To Subbu- I owe a lot of my sanity and happiness. Thanks for all the confidence in me when my self-esteem is at an all time low! Finally, I would like to acknowledge my family without whose help, support and encouragement, I wouldn't be where I am.