Carnegie Mellon University

Travis Breaux

Dr. Travis Breaux

Assistant Professor, Institute for Software Research

5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


Travis D. Breaux is an Associate Professor of Computer Science, appointed in the Institute for Software Research of the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Breaux's research program searches for new methods and tools for developing correct software specifications and ensuring that software systems conform to those specifications in a transparent, reliable and trustworthy manner. This includes demonstrating compliance with U.S. and international accessibility, privacy and security laws, policies and standards. Dr. Breaux is the Director of the Requirements Engineering Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Breaux has several publications in ACM and IEEE-sponsored journals and conference proceedings. Dr. Breaux is a member of the ACM SIGSOFT, IEEE Computer Society and USACM Public Policy Committee.

Prior to coming to the Carnegie Mellon University, Dr. Breaux received the Doctorate of Philosophy in Computer Science from North Carolina State University (NCSU) in 2009. Dr. Breaux also holds Baccalaureate degrees in Computer and Information Science from the University of Oregon and in Anthropology from the University of Houston. He has conducted research at the Institute for Defense Analyses, the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Laboratory, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS) at Purdue University. In 2000, Dr. Breaux served as a volunteer in the United States Peace Corps in Mongolia, before transitioning from anthropology to computer science.

Dr. Breaux traces his passion for exploring socio-technical systems back to teachings he received in culture cosmology and philosophy by Dr. Susan Rasmussen and Dr. Quetzil Casteñeda at the University of Houston. Dr. Breaux was first introduced to the field of Requirements Engineering by his undergraduate adviser, Dr. Stephen Fickas, at the University of Oregon whose influence includes requirements monitoring, requirements negotiation and ephemeral requirements. Under the guidance of Dr. Annie Antón, Dr. Breaux has extended his interests to include the societal impact of system requirements on privacy and security in their "ground-breaking" work to acquire software requirements from policies and U.S. federal and state regulations.


How do we ensure that information systems comply with policies, laws and social norms?

As computers and information sharing increasingly pervade our everyday lives, we need greater assurance that software can and will conform to our social and personal expectations. Policies and law serve to document expectations among multiple parties and we can use these artifacts as a blueprint to discover software requirements. This is especially true in privacy, where corporate privacy policies and privacy regulations govern a range of software applications. To improve software quality and reliability, my research addresses the challenges to aligning regulations and policies with software specifications. This includes studying:

  1. Formal languages to express policies and system requirements, and tools to reason about conflicts, inconsistencies and ambiguities within and among policies and software specifications;
  2. Methods to enable requirements engineers, business analysts and software developers to analyze and refine policy into measurable system specifications that can be monitored over time; and
  3. Communities of practice that include diverse backgrounds, viewpoints and expertise, including law, computer science, government, industry and the public.

To learn more, read about my ongoing research projects or contact me.