Ergodic theory studies measurepreserving transformations of measure spaces. These objects are intrinsically infinite, and the notion of an individual point or of an orbit makes no sense. Still there are a variety of situations when a measurepreserving transformation (and its asymptotic behavior) can be well described as a limit of certain finite objects (periodic processes). The first part of this book develops this idea systematically. Genericity of approximation in various categories is explored, and numerous applications are presented, including spectral multiplicity and properties of the maximal spectral type. The second part of the book contains a treatment of various constructions of cohomological nature with an emphasis on obtaining interesting asymptotic behavior from approximate pictures at different time scales. The book presents a view of ergodic theory not found in other expository sources. It is suitable for graduate students familiar with measure theory and basic functional analysis. Readership Graduate students and research mathematicians interested in ergodic theory. Reviews "For more advanced readers, however, this volume will be highly rewarding: they will be learning from a master of the subject, presenting some of his tools."  Mathematical Reviews Table of Contents  Introduction
 Approximation and genericity in ergodic theory
 Cocycles, cohomology and combinatorial constructions
 References
