This is the introduction from the full paper, available for download here as a pdf:
Cataclysmic Variables: An introduction to the evolution, variability and science of nature’s most dynamic stars
by Philip Hall
This paper is dedicated with respect and appreciation to the many amateur astronomers around the world whose patient and diligent observations have done so much to further our understanding of variable stars. The author also wishes to thank the BAA Variable Star Section for its generous support in providing a public forum to disseminate this discussion of cataclysmic variables.
Philip Hall is a British-born amateur astronomer based in Tokyo whose principle observing interest is deep sky objects. He is currently about 90% of the way through the Herschel 400 list. This review of cataclysmic variable stars was originally submitted as a project paper for one unit of the Swinburne Astronomy Online MSc degree programme, and he hopes it will be of background interest to amateur astronomers generally as well as a useful introduction to the subject for intending and current variable star observers.