Travis D. Breaux Carnegie Mellon University Travis D. Breaux
Associate Professor of Computer Science
Software and Societal Systems Department
School of Computer Science
4665 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
S3D - TCS Hall 346

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Research Overview

Keywords: Privacy, Security, Requirements and Software Engineering; Risk and Legal Compliance

Dr. Breaux is the Director of the CMU Requirements Engineering Lab, where his research program investigates how to specify and design software to comply with policy and law in a trustworthy, reliable manner. His work historically concerned the empirical extraction of legal requirements from policies and law, and has recently studied how to use formal specifications to reason about privacy policy compliance, how to measure and reason over ambiguous and vague policies, and how security and privacy experts and novices estimate the risk of system designs.

To learn more, read about his ongoing research projects or contact him.

Recent Events
19 Oct 2022 Breaux and Norton published paper on Legal Accountability as Software Quality in IEEE RE 2022, which informs their new joint NSF-funded project.
29 Jun 2022 Breaux's joint paper Consent Verification Monitoring, in collaboration with Marco Robol, Elda Paja and Paolo Giogini, appears in ACM TOSEM. The paper provides a provable guarantee that data colleciton and use does not violate GDPR consent under multiple, overlapping and changing privacy policies.
1 Apr 2019 Breaux appointed Director of the Masters of Software Engineering (MSE) Professional Programs. The MSE programs have a 30-year history and were the first masters degrees offered in the CMU School of Computer Science.
8 Jan 2019 Breaux and Bhatia introduce their new course 17-649 Artificial Intelligence for Software Engineering offered in Spring and Fall 2019
23 Aug 2018 Bhatia and Breaux received the RE 2018 Distinguished Paper Award for their paper, entitled Semantic Incompleteness in Privacy Goals
1 Aug 2018 Bhatia and Breaux had their paper, entitled Empirical Measurement of Privacy Risk, accepted to ACM Transactions on Human Computer Interaction (TOCHI). A pre-publication version of this work was presented at the 2018 Federal Trade Commission (FTC) PrivacyCon
30 May 2018 Breaux receives Distinguished Reviewer Award for his service to ICSE 2018.
7 May 2018 Breaux joined the Editorial Board of the ACM Transactions on Software Engineering Methology (TOSEM)
15 Sep 2016 Breaux, Vail and Antón's 2006 RE paper, entitled "Towards Regulatory Compliance: Extracting Rights and Obligations to Align Requirements with Regulations," receives Honorable Mention for 2016 IEEE RE Most Influential Paper Award (Press Release).
Paper Highlights

Formal Analysis of Privacy Requirements Specifications for Multi-Tier Applications [ PDF ]
(Breaux, Rao)
In proceedings of IEEE RE'13, presents a formal language for expressing and checking privacy requirements specifications for conflicts; findings include techniques to model privacy policies and demonstration of potential conflicts among Facebook, Zynga and AOL Advertising. This conference publication was nominated for best paper.

A Cross-Domain Empirical Study and Legal Evaluation of the Requirements Water Marking Method
(Gordon, Breaux)
In Requirements Engineering J. presents an empirical method for comparing legal requirements from across multiple jurisdictions; findings include analysis of data breach notificaiton laws and requirements water marks to denote high and low standards of care. This extended journal paper is based on a prior IEEE RE'12 conference publication that was nominated for best paper (DOI).

Legally "Reasonable" Security Requirements: A 10-year FTC Retrospective [ PDF ]
(Breaux, Baumer)
In Computers and Security, 30(4): 178-193. Presents empirical results expressing a definition of legally reasonable security derived from FTC regulatory enforcement actions conducted in response to privacy violations.

Analyzing Regulatory Rules for Privacy and Security Requirements [ PDF ]
(Breaux, Antón)
In IEEE TSE, 34(1): 5-20. Presents a method to extract access rights and obligations from regulations to reduce unwanted and unlawful uses and disclosures of protected information in electronic information systems.

Legal Requirements, Compliance and Practice: An Industry Case Study in Accessibility [ PDF ]
(Breaux, Antón, Boucher, Dorfman)
In IEEE RE'08. We present preliminary results from a gap analysis on CISCO product requirements using U.S. Section 508 accessibility law; the findings include five "best practice" refinement patterns to improve regulatory harmony.

Semantic Parameterization: A Process for Modeling Domain Descriptions [ PDF ]
(Breaux, Antón, Doyle)
In ACM TOSEM, 18(2): 5. Presents a method for mapping descriptions of a domain (e.g., actors, actions, goals) to Description Logic formula. The resulting logical theory can be used to formally compare and reason about software requirements.

In the News

NIST publishes new Privacy Control Catalog in SP 800-53
(July 19, 2011)
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) proposed Appendix J to Special Publication 800-53 to aid federal information systems with satisfying critical privacy requirements. (see NIST Website).

FTC promotes Privacy by Design in new framework
(December 1, 2010)
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) proposes new privacy framework, including Do Not Track and Privacy by Design to address increasing advances in technology and complex, often invisible, data practices (see FTC Website).

SEC proposes Python as cash-flow e-file language
(April 7, 2010)
Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) proposes to require providers of asset-backed securities to file "a computer program of the contractual cash flow provisions of the securities in the form of downloadable source code in Python" (see SEC Website).

U.S. Bill S.773 proposes common security configuration language
(April 1, 2009)
Early draft of the Cybersecurity Act of 2009 proposes a "standard computer-readable language for completely specifying the configuration of software" and a standard language "to communicate vulnerability data to software users in real time," similar to the FDCC, CVE and related standards.

Calls for Papers

36th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE'14)
Dates: Jun 1-7, 2014, Hyderabad, India
Submissions: Sep 13, 2013 (research papers)

20th International Working Conference on Requirements Engineering: Foundations of Software Quality (REFSQ)
Dates: Apr 7-10, 2014, Essen, Germany
Submissions: Oct 9, 2013 (abstracts), Oct 16 (papers)

22nd IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference (RE'14)
Dates: Aug 25-29, 2014, Karlskrona, Sweden
Submissions: Mar 3/ Mar 10 (abstracts/research papers)

Archives of the International Workshop on Requirements Engineering and Law (RELAW)