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New book provides a look into the super-secret NSA

Tom WillemainTom Willemain, a software entrepreneur, statistics professor and well-known figure in the operations research community, volunteered for a year-long sabbatical tour of duty in the National Security Agency (NSA). He recounts his experience in the recently released book, “Working on the Dark Side of the Moon: Life Inside the National Security Agency,” in which he provides the first ground-level look inside the super-secret NSA and a shadowy think tank affiliated with it.

Willemain ended up spending several years moving between the business and academic worlds and the secret world. The book records his impressions of people and places never before described in such intimate detail.

A deeply personal account of the years spent within the most secretive organization in the world, the book explores the range of emotions an outsider experiences while crossing over to the “inside.” It also shows the positive side of an agency whose secrecy hides dedicated men and women devoted to protecting the country while honoring the Constitution.

Willemain writes: “The very secrecy that enables NSA to be effective also cripples its ability to explain its positive contributions. Into this void are projected grossly distorted views of what NSA does and what NSA people are like. This book puts a human face on the people who work in this secret world: their character, motivations, frustrations, sense of humor. Readers can develop a more balanced and nuanced view of NSA and its people.”

Dr. Willemain served as an expert statistical consultant to the NSA at Fort Meade, Md., and as a member of the adjunct research staff at an affiliated think-tank, the Institute for Defense Analyses Center for Computing Sciences (IDA/CCS). He is professor emeritus of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, having previously held faculty positions at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also co-founder and senior vice president/research at Smart Software, Inc. He is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers, the Military Operations Research Society, the American Statistical Association and several other professional organizations.

His other books include “Statistical Methods for Planners,” “Emergency Medical Systems Analysis” (with R. C. Larson) and 80 articles in peer-reviewed journals on topics in statistics, operations research, healthcare and other topics.

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2018 INFORMS Conference on Business Analytics and Operations Research
April 15-17, 2018, Baltimore


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