Operads and moduli spaces
This thesis is concerned with the application of operadic methods, particularly modular operads, to questions arising in the study of moduli spaces of surfaces as well as applications to the study of homotopy algebras and new constructions of 'quantum invariants' of manifolds inspired by ideas originating from physics. We consider the extension of classical 2-dimensional topological quantum field theories to Klein topological quantum field theories which allow unorientable surfaces. We generalise open topological conformal field theories to open Klein topological conformal field theories and consider various related moduli spaces, in particular deducing a Mobius graph decomposition of the moduli spaces of Klein surfaces, analogous to the ribbon graph decomposition of the moduli spaces of Riemann surfaces. We also begin a study, in generality, of quantum homotopy algebras, which arise as 'higher genus' versions of classical homotopy algebras. In particular we study the problem of quantum lifting. We consider applications to understanding invariants of manifolds arising in the quantisation of Chern-Simons field theory.