Solving Puzzles

Speaker: I've always been really interested in puzzles and the idea of kind of solving puzzles and looking at something where there's just kind of enough information for you to be able to make something out of it but all the information you need is not really there, not really visible in readable form. I really enjoy that process of looking at kind of obfuscated data and being able to pluck out shades of meaning. It's the same thing that happens when you're solving a puzzle, and that sort of interest is what led me to come to the NSA and pursue a career in cryptanalysis. My background is a mathematician so I was interested in going somewhere where I could use my math skills and there's plenty of places you can do math but this is one of the places where you really get to work with a bunch of other mathematicians who are also kind of interested in the same kind of things you are. I feel that NSA is a unique combination of an academic style of research with practical results. I don't think there's anywhere else you can go where you can kind of feel like you're working in academia in terms of you're working on like hard, long term research problems. But at the same time, when you have success on these problems it produces real world results, sometimes in the blink of an eye a success you have can lead directly to intelligence that's going to support our U.S. policy makers the next day. I feel like I've made a contribution. Some of the successes I've been fortunate enough to be a part of have led directly to U.S. gains in intelligence and I'm proud of that. It's hard work, no question about that, but when it works, it's pretty exciting.

Back (To Video)