It appears that we live in an age of disasters: the mighty Missis- sippi and Missouri flood millions of acres, earthquakes hit Tokyo and California, airplanes crash due to mechanical failure and the seemingly ever increasing wind speeds make the storms more and more frightening. While all these may seem to be unexpected phemena to the man on the street, they are actually happening according to well defined rules of science kwn as extreme value theory. We kw that records must be broken in the future, so if a flood design is based on the worst case of the past then we are t really prepared against floods. Materials will fail due to fatigue, so if the body of an aircraft looks fine to the naked eye, it might still suddenly fail if the aircraft has been in operation over an extended period of time. Our theory has by w penetrated the so- cial sciences, the medical profession, ecomics and even astromy. We believe that our field has come of age. In or~er to fully utilize the great progress in the theory of extremes and its ever increasing acceptance in practice, an international conference was organized in which equal weight was given to theory and practice. This book is Volume I of the Proceedings of this conference. In selecting the papers for Volume lour guide was to have authoritative works with a large variety of coverage of both theory and practice.