CHANCE Special Issue Looks at Statistics
Behind Defense and National Security

Scott Evans, CHANCE Magazine Executive Editor


Threats to national security come in many forms. In 2016, Russians hacked the United States election. On September 11, 2001, 19 militants associated with the extremist group al-Qaeda hijacked four airplanes, killing nearly 3,000 people. In the 1990s, President Bill Clinton was convinced the global spread of AIDS was reaching catastrophic dimensions and formally designated HIV a threat to United States national security since it could threaten the stability of foreign governments, touch off ethnic wars, and undo recent advances in building free-market democracies abroad.

Defense and national security is the theme of CHANCE 31(2), a special issue. Six articles discuss various aspects of national security and how statistics is playing a key role in addressing various issues. David Banks and Alyson Wilson served as guest editors for this issue.

In the first article, Laura Freeman and Catherine Warner discuss implementing statistical design and analysis in the evaluation of the Department of Defense (DoD) operational systems in “Informing the Warfighter—Why Statistical Testing Methods Matter in Defense Testing.” Ron Fricker and Steven Rigdon then discuss surveillance methods applied to detecting and tracking deadly diseases such as influenza (swine flu or bird flu), Ebola, Zika, or SARS. Banks discusses how adversarial risk analysis, a modeling strategy that incorporates an opponent’s reasoning, can be applied to a range of problems in counterterrorism. Douglas Ray and Paul Roediger then discuss adaptive testing of DoD systems with a binary response. The evolution of statistical modeling of military recruiting is the topic of an article by Samuel Buttrey, Lyn Whitaker, and Jonathan Alt. Susan Sanchez discusses the use of data farming, using tools and techniques for the design and analysis of large simulation experiments, as applied to defense problems.

In an independent article, Beverly Wood, Megan Mocko, Michelle Everson, Nick Horton, and Paul Velleman evaluate clarifications and updates to the six recommendations for teaching from the original, foundational GAISE College Report. They consider evolutions affecting the teaching and practice of statistics, including the rise of data science, an increase in the number of students studying statistics, increasing availability of data, and advances in science and technology. They discuss how the original recommendations can be clarified by acknowledging these developments.

In the Odds of Justice column, Mary Gray evaluates the death penalty and the role statistics is playing and can play in evaluating its appropriateness. In Visual Revelations, Howard Wainer and Michael Friendly take a historical look at visualization and the profound impact visual communication has had, going back to ancient civilizations.

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