The study of families of curves with prescribed singularities has a long tradition. Its foundations were laid by Plücker, Severi, Segre, and Zariski at the beginning of the 20th century. Leading to interesting results with applications in singularity theory and in the topology of complex algebraic curves and surfaces it has attained the continuous attraction of algebraic geometers since then. Throughout this thesis we examine the varieties V(D,S1,...,Sr) of irreducible reduced curves in a fixed linear system |D| on a smooth projective surface S over the complex numbers having precisely r singular points of types S1,...,Sr. We are mainly interested in the following three questions: 1) Is V(D,S1,...,Sr) non-empty? 2) Is V(D,S1,...,Sr) T-smooth, that is smooth of the expected dimension? 3) Is V(D,S1,...Sr) irreducible? We would like to answer the questions in such a way that we present numerical conditions depending on invariants of the divisor D and of the singularity types S1,...,Sr, which ensure a positive answer. The main conditions which we derive will be of the type inv(S1)+...+inv(Sr) < aD^2+bD.K+c, where inv is some invariant of singularity types, a, b and c are some constants, and K is some fixed divisor. The case that S is the projective plane has been very well studied by many authors, and on other surfaces some results for curves with nodes and cusps have been derived in the past. We, however, consider arbitrary singularity types, and the results which we derive apply to large classes of surfaces, including surfaces in projective three-space, K3-surfaces, products of curves and geometrically ruled surfaces.
In this dissertation we consider complex, projective hypersurfaces with many isolated singularities. The leading questions concern the maximal number of prescribed singularities of such hypersurfaces in a given linear system, and geometric properties of the equisingular stratum. In the first part a systematic introduction to the theory of equianalytic families of hypersurfaces is given. Furthermore, the patchworking method for constructing hypersurfaces with singularities of prescribed types is described. In the second part we present new existence results for hypersurfaces with many singularities. Using the patchworking method, we show asymptotically proper results for hypersurfaces in P^n with singularities of corank less than two. In the case of simple singularities, the results are even asymptotically optimal. These statements improve all previous general existence results for hypersurfaces with these singularities. Moreover, the results are also transferred to hypersurfaces defined over the real numbers. The last part of the dissertation deals with the Castelnuovo function for studying the cohomology of ideal sheaves of zero-dimensional schemes. Parts of the theory of this function for schemes in P^2 are generalized to the case of schemes on general surfaces in P^3. As an application we show an H^1-vanishing theorem for such schemes.