Dr. Michael Kirsten



228 (Building 50.34)
+ 49 721 608-45648
+ 49 721 608-44021
kirstenFlc1∂kit edu

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KIT  /  Institute of Information Security and Dependability (KASTEL)

Am Fasanengarten 5
Building 50.34
76131 Karlsruhe

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Dr.rer.nat. Michael Kirsten KIT + 49 721 608-43856 + 49 721 608-44021 Michael Kirsten

Research Interests

  • Formalisation and verification of axiomatic/declarative properties for:
    • Analysis of social choice mechanisms (in the broader sense), in particular voting rules
    • (Static) program analysis for information-flow properties
  • Software (bounded) model checking
  • Deductive program verification


  • End-to-End Verifiable and Secret Online Elections at KIT

    KIT currently offers the possibility to conduct online polls. Thereby, conducting open votes, e.g., within video meetings of committees, is relatively easy. However, secret online votes and elections pose a disproportionately greater challenge – due to the opposing requirements which result from the secrecy of the ballot on the one hand side and the need for traceable correctness and election security on the other hand side.

    The goal of this project is the design and the prototypical implementation of an online voting system for end-to-end verifiable, secret elections at KIT. The prototype will be employed for a KIT-wide straw poll. The aim is notably not to change the decision-making power, but to explain complex technical situations. Firstly, there is already a dynamic that evolves towards online elections at universities, presently however generally in the form of black-box systems for which strong security assumptions are made.

    E2E-Elections at KIT

  • Trust Through Explainability in Verifiable Online Voting Systems

    Since the beginning of the pandemic, online voting systems have been increasingly discussed and used in secret elections and polls. On the one hand, the question is raised as to the technical and organizational trustworthiness of the systems used (i.e., how the security of these systems is assessed in the course of an evaluation of their properties) and, on the other hand, as to how the voters’ trust in these systems (and ultimately the outcome) is influenced and what role explainability plays in this context (i.e., to what extent voters understand the functionality and/or properties).

    The goals of this project are a networking of the two topics Engineering Secure Systems and Knowledge for Action in the Helmholtz program Engineering Digital Futures (within the research field information) as well as an impulse for special research questions in the context of technical-organizational trustworthiness and influences on trust in online voting systems, particularly concerning the role of explainability.

    Explainable Online Elections

  • Problem-oriented, Research-oriented and Interdisciplinary Teaching in Computer Science

    The main goal of the project LehreForschung-PLUS is to improve the study conditions and to continuously raise the qualitiy of teaching by an extensive development of the curricula for bachelor and master students.

    Our subproject comprises three primary actions, which all aim to implement and strengthen project- and research-oriented, as well as interdisciplinary, teaching in the computer science curricula.

    These comprise the further development and improvement of the project- and research-oriented master module "Research Project", the project-oriented bachelor module "Software Engineering Practice", as well as introducing the interdisciplinary and research-oriented master profile "Internet and Society".


  • Computational Social Choice

    Computational social choice is a rapidly evolving research trend concerned with the design and analysis of methods for collective decision making. COST Action IC1205 on Computational Social Choice is a European research network that has been set up to provide a common platform for research in this field across Europe and beyond. Within this project, we focus on voting rules, i.e., methods to combine individual preferences to an aggregated election result, which are vital for democratic principles to work as intended.

    The goal of this project is to develop formal verification techniques which allow to check properties of voting rules without the huge overhead of user interaction needed in full functional verification. The resulting methodology could then be used in an iterative design and implementation process of new voting rules.

    COST Action IC1205

  • Program-level Specification and Deductive Verification of Security Properties

    In recent years tremendous progress has been achieved in formal verification of functional properties of computer programs. At the same time seminal papers have been published showing that it is in principle possible to formulate information-flow problems as proof obligations in program logics. The overall goal of the project is to leverage these advances together with our own experience in formal methods for functional properties in order to specify and verify security properties.

    DeduSec Project
    (part of the DFG Priority Programme 1496 Reliably Secure Software Systems – RS³ )
  • Specification and Functional Verification of Smart Contracts

    Smart contracts are programs that are executed in a blockchain, mapping contracts and other real-world agreements to program logic and executing the contract conditions in an automated and transparent manner. The goal of this project is to pave the way for specification and formal verification of smart contracts. Building on existing verification tools and technology, we establish a base for describing and proving functional properties of smart contracts. The overall goal is that blockchain/smart-contract technology, with all its advantages, can be confidently employed.

    VeriSmart Project
  • Integrated Deductive Software Design

    The KeY System is a formal software development tool that aims to integrate design, implementation, formal specification, and formal verification of object-oriented software as seamlessly as possible. At the core of the system is a novel theorem prover for the first-order Dynamic Logic for Java with a user-friendly graphical interface.

    The project was started in November 1998 at the University of Karlsruhe. It is now a joint project of KIT, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, and TU Darmstadt. The KeY tool is available for download.

    KeY Project

Academic Activities

My academic activities are listed on a separate page.


  • BEAST - Automated Election Verification via Bounded Model Checking
  • CombinedApproach - Automatic and Precise Noninterference Verification of Java Programs
  • DIbugger - Understanding Counterexamples for Relational Program Properties
  • KeY - Integrated Deductive Software Design


Publications (grouped chronologically)

Title Author(s) Source
Recommendations for Implementing Independent Individual Verification in Internet VotingFlorian Moser, Rüdiger Grimm, Tobias Hilt, Michael Kirsten, Christoph Niederbudde, and Melanie Volkamer9th International Joint Conference on Electronic Voting (E-Vote-ID 2024)
Title Author(s) Source
Why is Online Voting Still Largely a Black Box?Michael Kirsten, Melanie Volkamer, and Bernhard BeckertFirst International Workshop on Election Infrastructure Security (EIS 2022) in conjunction with ESORICS 2022: European Symposium on Research in Computer Security
Algorithmic Fairness and Secure Information Flow (Extended Abstract)Bernhard Beckert, Michael Kirsten, and Michael SchefczykEuropean Workshop on Algorithmic Fairness (EWAF '22), Lightning round track
Formal Methods for Trustworthy Voting SystemsMichael KirstenKarlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) (January 2022)
Title Author(s) Source
Card-Based Cryptography Meets Formal VerificationAlexander Koch, Michael Schrempp, and Michael KirstenNew Generation Computing 39(1)
Title Author(s) Source
Integration of Static and Dynamic Analysis Techniques for Checking NoninterferenceBernhard Beckert, Mihai Herda, Michael Kirsten, and Shmuel TyszberowiczDeductive Software Verification: Future Perspectives - Reflections on the Occasion of 20 Years of KeY, Part V: Integration of Verification Techniques
Problemorientierte, forschungsorientierte und interdisziplinäre Lehre in der InformatikMichael Kirsten, Robert Bauer, Andreas Fried, Bernhard Beckert, Michael Beigl, Gregor Snelting, and Martina ZitterbartCampustage 2020 „Lehre^Forschung-PLUS“
Modular Verification of JML Contracts Using Bounded Model CheckingBernhard Beckert, Michael Kirsten, Jonas Klamroth, and Mattias Ulbrich9th International Symposium on Leveraging Applications of Formal Methods, Verification and Validation (ISoLA 2020), Part I: Verification Principles
Verified Construction of Fair Voting RulesKarsten Diekhoff, Michael Kirsten, and Jonas Krämer29th International Symposium on Logic-Based Program Synthesis and Transformation (LOPSTR 2019), Revised Selected Papers
Title Author(s) Source
Card-Based Cryptography Meets Formal VerificationAlexander Koch, Michael Schrempp, and Michael Kirsten25th International Conference on the Theory and Application of Cryptology and Information Security (ASIACRYPT 2019), Part I
Card-Based Cryptography Meets Formal VerificationAlexander Koch, Michael Schrempp, and Michael KirstenIACR Cryptology ePrint Archive 2019(1037)
Formal Property-Oriented Design of Voting Rules Using Composable ModulesKarsten Diekhoff, Michael Kirsten, and Jonas Krämer6th International Conference on Algorithmic Decision Theory (ADT 2019), Part Short Papers
GI Elections with POLYAS: a Road to End-to-End Verifiable ElectionsBernhard Beckert, Achim Brelle, Rüdiger Grimm, Nicolas Huber, Michael Kirsten, Ralf Küsters, Jörn Müller‑Quade, Maximilian Noppel, Kai Reinhard, Jonas Schwab, Rebecca Schwerdt, Tomasz Truderung, Melanie Volkamer, and Cornelia WinterFourth International Joint Conference on Electronic Voting (E-Vote-ID 2019)
Understanding Counterexamples for Relational Properties with DIbuggerMihai Herda, Michael Kirsten, Etienne Brunner, Joana Plewnia, Ulla Scheler, Chiara Staudenmaier, Benedikt Wagner, Pascal Zwick, and Bernhard BeckertSixth Workshop on Horn Clauses for Verification and Synthesis and Third Workshop on Program Equivalence and Relational Reasoning (HCVS/PERR 2019)
Title Author(s) Source
Formal Specification and Verification of Hyperledger Fabric ChaincodeBernhard Beckert, Mihai Herda, Michael Kirsten, and Jonas Schiffl3rd Symposium on Distributed Ledger Technology (SDLT-2018) co-located with ICFEM 2018: the 20th International Conference on Formal Engineering Methods
Using Theorem Provers to Increase the Precision of Dependence Analysis for Information Flow ControlBernhard Beckert, Simon Bischof, Mihai Herda, Michael Kirsten, and Marko Kleine Büning20th International Conference on Formal Engineering Methods - Formal Methods and Software Engineering (ICFEM 2018)
Towards automatic argumentation about voting rulesMichael Kirsten and Olivier Cailloux4ème conférence sur les Applications Pratiques de l'Intelligence Artificielle (APIA 2018)
Title Author(s) Source
An Introduction to Voting Rule VerificationBernhard Beckert, Thorsten Bormer, Rajeev Goré, Michael Kirsten, and Carsten SchürmannTrends in Computational Social Choice, Part II: Techniques
Formal Fairness Properties in Network Routing Based on a Resource Allocation ModelAlmut Demel and Michael Kirsten9th Workshop on Logical Aspects of Multi-Agent Systems (LAMAS 2017) affiliated with CSL 2017: the 26th EACSL Annual Conference on Computer Science Logic
RIFL 1.1: A Common Specification Language for Information-Flow RequirementsThomas Bauereiß, Simon Greiner, Mihai Herda, Michael Kirsten, Ximeng Li, Heiko Mantel, Martin Mohr, Matthias Perner, David Schneider, and Markus TaschTU Darmstadt TUD-CS-2017-0225
Generalized Test Tables: A Powerful and Intuitive Specification Language for Reactive SystemsAlexander Weigl, Franziska Wiebe, Mattias Ulbrich, Sebastian Ulewicz, Suhyun Cha, Michael Kirsten, Bernhard Beckert, and Birgit Vogel‑Heuser15th IEEE International Conference on Industrial Informatics (INDIN 2017)
Combining Graph-Based and Deduction-Based Information-Flow AnalysisBernhard Beckert, Simon Bischof, Mihai Herda, Michael Kirsten, and Marko Kleine Büning5th Workshop on Hot Issues in Security Principles and Trust (HotSpot 2017) affiliated with ETAPS 2017: European Joint Conferences on Theory and Practice of Software
Automatic Margin Computation for Risk-Limiting AuditsBernhard Beckert, Michael Kirsten, Vladimir Klebanov, and Carsten SchürmannFirst International Joint Conference on Electronic Voting – formerly known as EVOTE and VoteID (E-Vote-ID 2016)
Title Author(s) Source
A Verification-Supported Evolution Approach to Assist Software Application Engineers in Industrial Factory AutomationSebastian Ulewicz, Mattias Ulbrich, Alexander Weigl, Michael Kirsten, Franziska Wiebe, Bernhard Beckert, and Birgit Vogel‑HeuserIEEE International Symposium on Assembly and Manufacturing (ISAM 2016)
Automated Verification for Functional and Relational Properties of Voting RulesBernhard Beckert, Thorsten Bormer, Michael Kirsten, Till Neuber, and Mattias UlbrichSixth International Workshop on Computational Social Choice (COMSOC 2016)
Title Author(s) Source
A Hybrid Approach for Proving Noninterference of Java ProgramsRalf Küsters, Tomasz Truderung, Bernhard Beckert, Daniel Bruns, Michael Kirsten, and Martin Mohr28th IEEE Computer Security Foundations Symposium (CSF 2015)
A Hybrid Approach for Proving Noninterference of Java ProgramsRalf Küsters, Tomasz Truderung, Bernhard Beckert, Daniel Bruns, Michael Kirsten, and Martin MohrIACR Cryptology ePrint Archive 2015(438)
Title Author(s) Source
Formal Verification of Voting SchemesMichael KirstenITI Beckert, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (December 2014)
Reasoning About Vote Counting Schemes Using Light-Weight and Heavy-Weight MethodsBernhard Beckert, Thorsten Bormer, Rajeev Goré, Michael Kirsten, and Thomas Meumann8th International Verification Workshop (VERIFY 2014) in connection with IJCAR 2014: International Joint Conference on Automated Reasoning
Title Author(s) Source
Proving Well-Definedness of JML Specifications with KeYMichael KirstenITI Schmitt, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (November 2013)

Supervised Projects and Theses