Michael Brennan, Ph.D.
Professional: michael.brennan@secondmuse.com (public key)
Personal: m@mbrennan.net

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I am a technologist and project lead at SecondMuse where I work on global social impact technology projects such as the National Day of Civic Hacking, Random Hacks of Kindness, and The International Space Apps Challenge. I am a recent PhD graduate from the Computer Science Department at Drexel University in Philadelphia where I co-founded the Privacy, Securlty and Automation Lab with my advisor Rachel Greenstadt and colleague Sadia Afroz. Between 2010 and 2012 I worked as a technologist for the Division of Privacy and Identity Protection at the Federal Trade Commission. I have also been a member of the Technical Advisory Council for Radio Free Asia's Open Technology Fund.

I own a beautiful old home in West Philadelphia, I run a small diy record label, and enjoy spending smaller bits of free time biking around the city and larger bits of free time traveling a bit further from home.

  • 2013.07.10: I received the 2013 Award for Outstanding Research in Privacy Enhancing Technologies along with my colleague Sadia Afroz and advisor Rachel Greenstadt for our work on Adversarial Stylometry.
  • 2013.03.05: You can find me on the cover of the current issue of Drexel Magazine, as part of their "40 Under 40" list.
  • 2012.12.14: I have formally completed my Ph.D. in Computer Science at Drexel University! Thank you to everyone who has supported me in this endeavor, especially my colleagues at PSAL and my advisor, Rachel Greenstadt.
  • 2012.03.14: I will be the recipient of this year's Jay Modi Memorial Award from the Drexel University Computer Science Department.
  • 2012.01.05: I spoke at the 28th Chaos Communication Congress with my colleague Sadia Afroz about our work on Adversarial Stylometry. You can find a video of the talk on YouTube.
  • 2011.11.15: We will be releasing JStylo and Anonymouth at the 28th Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin.
  • 2011.10.10: I will be presenting current work on Stylometry at the University of Pennsylvania's CIS Systems Seminar Series on November 11th.
  • 2011.06.05: I organized Random Hacks of Kindness Philadelphia on June 4th and 5th. The other organizers and I put this video together showcasing the projects at the event.
  • 2011.01.26: I will be giving talks about my research at Villanova University's Department of Computing Sciences on Monday, February 7th and Indiana University's Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research on Thursday, April 7th.
  • 2010.10.26: I put together a Google maps mashup visualizing the impact of civilian deaths in the Iraq war over major American cities. The goal of this project is to give individuals greater perspective about the impact of war on innocent people, something that can be difficult when faced with a regular barrage of statistics.
  • 2010.01.15: Would you like an overview of my authorship recognition research? Check out this YouTube playlist containing my talk from 26C3 in December of 2009.

    "Managing Quality, Identity and Adversaries in Public Discourse with Machine Learning." Brennan. PhD Dissertation, 2012. [pdf]
    "Adversarial Stylometry: Circumventing Authorship Recognition to Preserve Privacy and Anonymity." Brennan/Afroz/Greenstadt. Adversarial Stylometry: Circumventing Authorship Recognition to Preserve Privacy and Anonymity. [pdf]
    "Perspectives on Academic Impact from Inside the Federal Trade Commission." Brennan. Hot Topics in Privacy Enhancing Technologies'12.
    "Detecting Hoaxes, Frauds, and Deception in Writing Style Online." Afroz/Brennan/Greenstadt. IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy '12.
    "Coalescing Twitter Trends: The Under-Utilization of Machine Learning in Social Media." Brennan/Greenstadt. IEEE SocialCom '11. [pdf]
    "Learning to Extract Quality Discourse in Online Communities." Brennan/Wrazien/Greenstadt. WikiAI '10. [pdf]
    "Using Machine Learning to Augment Collaborative Filtering of Community Discussions." Brennan/Wrazien/Greenstadt. AAMAS '10.
    "Mixed-Initiative Security Agents." Greenstadt/Afroz/Brennan. AISec '09. [pdf]
    "Practical Attacks Against Authorship Recognition Techniques." Brennan/Greenstadt. IAAI '09. [pdf]
    "Museum Hunt: a Computerized Eye-Tracking Game." Brennan/Lee/Hurewitz/Boucher. International Meeting for Autism Research '09.
    "An Adaptive Color Based Method for Robot Path Identification." Brennan. University of Delaware Senior Thesis '05.

    "Beyond the Tech: Building Internet Freedom Tools for Real People" "Automation and Improving Public Discourse on the Web." "Deceiving Authorship Detection." "The Wisdom of Machine Learning: Augmenting Social Computing with Artificial Intelligence." "Adversarial Stylometry: Attacking Authorship Recognition to Preserve Privacy and Anonymity." "Twitter, Slashdot, Imitation, Obfuscation, (and a little bit of) Regulation." "Learning to Extract Quality Discourse in Online Communities." "Privacy & Stylometry: Practical Attacks Against Authorship Recognition Techniques." [slides: pdf, ppt]
    Education & Awards.
    Award for Outstanding Research in Privacy Enhancing Technologies, Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium, 2013.
    40 Alumni Under 40 (Cover), Drexel Magazine, Spring 2013.
    Best Presentation, Hot Topics in Privacy Enhancing Technologies, 2012.
    Jay Modi Memorial Award, 2012.
    M.S., Computer Science, Drexel University, 2010.
    Upsilon Pi Epsilon (Computer Science Honor Society) Member, 2008-.
    Dean's Fellowship, Drexel University, 2007-.
    B.S., Degree with Distinction, Computer Science, University of Delaware, 2005.

    Media Coverage.
    "Software Helps Identify Anonymous Writers or Helps Them Stay That Way" by Nicole Perlroth. New York Times Bits Blog. 01.03.11. (An overview of Anonymouth and JStylo tool releases)
    "State of Adversarial Stylometry: can you change your prose-style?" by Cory Doctorow. Boing Boing. 12.29.11. (An overview of our talk at 28C3, Anonymouth, and using it in fiction writing)
    "Authorship recognition software from Drexel University lab to be released December" by Christopher Wink. Technically Philly. 11.15.11. (Announcing our upcoming release of JStylo & Anonymouth)
    "Writing style fingerprint easily fooled." by Colin Barras. New Scientist. 08.19.09. (An overview of our Stylometry research)