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The topology of symplectic 4-manifolds is related to that of singular plane curves via the concept of branched covers. Thus, various classification problems concerning symplectic 4-manifolds can be reformulated as questions about singular plane curves. Moreover, using braid monodromy, these can in turn be reformulated in the language of braid group factorizations. While the results mentioned in this paper are not new, we hope that they will stimulate interest in these questions, which remain essentially wide open.