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I would like to express my deep gratitude to Professor Medhat Haroun, my advisor, for his guidance, encouragement and gracious support throughout the course of my graduate study, for his expertise in the field of earthquake engineering, which motivated me to work on this subject, and for his faith in me during the most difficult stages of the research; for all of this I am very thankful. Also, I am very grateful to my committee members, Professor Jose Pires and Professor Roberto Villaverde, for their reading of my work.
I would like to express my gratitude for the financial support provided in the form of fellowships by the Division of Graduate Studies and Research at UCI, in the form of teaching assistantships by the Department of Civil Engineering, and in the form of research assistantships by the National Science Foundation and the National Center of Earthquake Engineering Research.
Finally, special acknowledgement is also due to my wife Manal for her love, support, and untiring encouragement. No words can express my appreciation and gratitude to her.