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The OGLE survey of the SMC has discovered ~1500 eclipsing binaries thereby providing an excellent platform to study the evolution of close binary systems through case A and case B mass-exchange processes. The complementary spectroscopic radial-velocity studies of these binaries are now in progress and are revealing many interesting systems which challenge current theoretical models of close binary star evolution. These studies also provide excellent direct determinations of distances to these binary stars leading to an improved understanding of the mean distance to the SMC and its 3-D structure. Comparisons between these binary-star distances and other methods of determining the mean distance to the SMC will also be made.
The Tarantula Survey is an ambitious ESO Large Programme that has obtained multi-epoch spectroscopy of over 1000 massive stars in the 30 Doradus region in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Here, we introduce the scientific motivations of the survey and give an overview of the observational sample. Ultimately, quantitative analysis of every star, paying particular attention to the effects of rotational mixing and binarity, will be used to address fundamental questions in both stellar and cluster evolution.