Uri J. Braun

Photo of Me


11 Story Street #31
Cambridge, MA 02138


121 Maxwell-Dworkin
33 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

I graduated in May and am planning my next steps.

I was a member of Systems Research at Harvard (Syrah). I started out working on the Provenance Aware Storage Systems (PASS) project. My focus was on understanding what provenance can and cannot do and how to secure the provenance we collected. In the process of working on securing provenance, I realized my approach and solution are not limited to provenance as they apply to annotated graphs more generally.

Harvard is unique in that we students can and do put together teams of Professors to advance us and our research. I am especially indebted to Professors Stephen Chong and Greg Morrisett for advising me on the program language aspects of my research, Professor Jim Waldo for help ensuring my work was well founded, and to Professor Latanya Sweeney for her help relating to security and privacy.


I prefer taking the difficult path as I learn more that way. My research focuses on limiting disclosure of data represented in annotated graphs. I have proven that graphs provide richer semantics than earlier data models and introduce new privacy challenges. Graphs require new and richer: policies, security models, and enforcement mechanisms. Society is plowing forward, but the technical and legal communities are far behind.

Examples of annotated graphs include: social networks, medical records, financial data, and national intelligence. The key difference between annotated graphs and traditional (e.g. file or database) models is that graphs lacks a single point of control and inferences are often global. For example, to hide that two people are friends, we cannot limit the controls to one of the friends as both participants can reveal the friendship. Furthermore, a large overlap in circles of friends suggests the existence of the friendship.

This work is at the nexus of: systems, security and privacy, and programming language theory. I believe in: disproving existing approaches, proving mine works, building it, and showing it is practically useful. Anything short of achieving all four is a work in progress.

More broadly, I am interested in distributed systems -- getting computers to “play nice” together, especially making sure they continue to play nice even when life is not perfect.


I am active in behind the scenes roles in government on campus. I focus on the areas where we all agree, because there is plenty to do there. My efforts span the area, school and university level. At the area level, I am instrumental in starting and running cs-community as an informal community primarily targeting graduate students and CS undergrad concentrators. This includes putting on events and soliciting discussion on concerns. SEAS is the newest school at Harvard and still lacks a student governance structure both at the school and area level. I am trying to encourage the creation of organizations like cs-community in SEAS' other areas. At the SEAS level, I have been involved in the Graduate Student Life Council (GSLC). Currently, a team of SEAS students is working to create both a student government organization and a social organization. I have also represented Computer Science and/or SEAS at both the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) Graduate Student Council (GSC) as well as at the University level at the Harvard Graduate Council (HGC).

Ancient History

Before coming to Harvard I spent four years at EMC in the core Enginuity team (known internally as Microcode). Enginuity is the operating system that runs the Symmetrix system.

I received my B.S. in Computer Science at WPI.


  • Uri J. Braun, Margo I. Seltzer, Adriane Chapman, Barbara Blaustein, M. David Allen, and Len Seligman. Towards Query Interoperability: PASSing PLUS, In Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop on the Theory and Practice of Provenance (TaPP '10), San Jose, CA, February 2010 (PDF).
  • Kiran-Kumar Muniswamy-Reddy, Uri Braun, David A. Holland, Peter Macko Diana Maclean, Daniel Margo, Margo Seltzer, and Robin Smogor, Layering in Provenance Systems, In Proceedings of the USENIX Annual Technical Conference (USENIX '09), San Diego, CA, June 2009 (PDF).
  • Uri Braun, Avraham Shinnar, and Margo Seltzer, Securing Provenance, In Proceedings of the 3rd USENIX Workshop on Hot Topics in Security (HotSec '08), San Jose, CA, July 2008. (PDF, HTML).
  • David A. Holland, Uri Braun, Diana Maclean, Kiran-Kumar Muniswamy-Reddy, and Margo Seltzer, Choosing a Data Model and Query Language for Provenance, In Second International Provenance and Annotation Workshop (IPAW '08), June, 2008.
  • David A. Holland,, Margo Seltzer, Uri Braun, and Kiran-Kumar Muniswamy-Reddy, PASSing the provenance challenge, In Concurrency and Computation: Practice and Experience (CCPE '08), September 2007.
  • Uri Braun, Kiran-Kumar Muniswamy-Reddy, David A. Holland, and Margo Seltzer, The Provenance Challenge: PASS, http://twiki.ipaw.info/view/Challenge/PASS September, 2006.
  • Kiran-Kumar Muniswamy-Reddy, David A. Holland, Uri Braun, and Margo Seltzer. Provenance Aware Storage Systems, In Proceedings of the USENIX Annual Technical Conference (USENIX '06), Boston, MA, June 2006.
  • Uri Braun, Simson Garfinkel, David A. Holland, Kiran-Kumar Muniswamy-Reddy and Margo I. Seltzer. Issues in Automatic Provenance Collection, In Proceedings of the International Provenance and Annotation Workshop (IPAW '06), Chicago, IL, May 2006.
  • Uri Braun, David A. Holland, Kiran-Kumar Muniswamy-Reddy, and Margo Seltzer, Coping with cycles in provenance. http://www.eecs.harvard.edu/~syrah/pubs/cycles.pdf, February, 2006.
  • Uri Braun and Avi Shinnar, A Security Model for Provenance. Harvard University Computer Science Technical Report TR-04-06, January 2006 (PDF).
  • Margo Seltzer, Kiran-Kumar Muniswamy-Reddy, David A. Holland, Uri Braun, and Jonathan Ledlie. Provenance-Aware Storage Systems. Harvard University Computer Science Technical Report TR-18-05, July 2005 (PDF).
  • Jonathan Ledlie, Chaki Ng, David Holland, Kiran-Kumar Muniswamy-Reddy, Uri Braun, and Margo Seltzer, Provenance-Aware Sensor Data Storage, In Proceedings of NetDB 2005, Tokyo, Japan, April 2005 (PDF, HTML).


An entire cast of supporting Professors deserve mention, including: Michael Rabin for teaching me the power of thinking probabilistically, Gerome Miklau for providing informal advice when it mattered, Jim Waldo for his wisdom on both distributed systems and anchoring ones work on philosophical bedrock, Harry Lewis for solving a proof I worked on for months, Ronald Rivest for help on that same proof.

I am far more indebted to my fellow graduate students, who have taught me far more. First among these is Avi Shinnar a true friend, who taught me volumes both academically and otherwise, Gregory Malecha and Ryan Wisnesky both friends who have selflessly helped me academically and improved the sense of community, David Darais an energetic friend and teacher, Bo Waggoner a running friend and thinker.

David Holland deserves special mention. He has steadfastly supported me throughout the years both academically and personally. Easily one of the best programmers I know, his advising skills are his greatest asset.

Lots more to add...

Uri Braun
Last modified: Wed Feb 10 23:21:18 Eastern Standard Time 2010