The concept of pairing treated here occurs in mathematics.


Let R be a commutative ring with unity, and let M, N and L be three R-modules.

A pairing is any R-bilinear map e:M times N to L. That is, it satisfies


for any r in R. Or equivalently, a pairing is an R-linear map

M otimes_R N to L

where M otimes_R N denotes the tensor product of M and N.

A pairing can also be considered as an R-linear map Phi : M to operatorname{Hom}_{R} (N, L) , which matches the first definition by setting Phi (m) (n) := e(m,n) .

A pairing is called perfect if the above map Phi is an isomorphism of R-modules.

A pairing is called alternating if for the above map we have e(m,m) = 1 .

A pairing is called non-degenerate if for the above map we have e(m,n) = 1 for all m implies n=0 .


Any scalar product on a real vector space V is a pairing (set M = N = V, R = R in the above definitions).

The determinant map (2 × 2 matrices over k) → k can be seen as a pairing k^2 times k^2 to k.

The Hopf map S^3 to S^2 written as h:S^2 times S^2 to S^2 is an example of a pairing. In for instance, Hardie et. al present an explicit construction of the map using poset models.

Pairings in Cryptography

In cryptography, often the following specialized definition is used :

Let textstyle G_1 be an additive and textstyle G_2 a multiplicative group both of prime order textstyle p. Let textstyle P, Q be generators textstyle in G_1.

A pairing is a map: e: G_1 times G_1 rightarrow G_2

for which the following holds:

  1. Bilinearity: textstyle forall P,Q in G_1,, a,b in mathbb{Z}_p^*: eleft(aP, bQright) = eleft(P, Qright)^{ab}
  2. Non-degeneracy: textstyle forall P in G_1,,P neq infty: eleft(P, Pright) neq 1
  3. For practical purposes, textstyle e has to be computable in an efficient manner

The Weil pairing is a pairing important in elliptic curve cryptography to avoid the MOV attack. It and other pairings have been used to develop identity-based encryption schemes.

Slightly different usages of the notion of pairing

Scalar products on complex vector spaces are sometimes called pairings, although they are not bilinear. For example, in representation theory, one has a scalar product on the characters of complex representations of a finite group which is frequently called character pairing.

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