Many research papers in pairing-based cryptography treat pairings as a a??black boxa??. These papers build cryptographic schemes making use of various properties of pairings. If this approach is taken, then it is easy for authors to make invalid assumptions concerning the properties of pairings. The cryptographic schemes developed may not be realizable in practice, or may not be as efficient as the authors assume.
The aim of this paper is to outline, in as simple a fashion as possible, the basic choices that are available when using pairings in cryptography. For each choice, the main properties and efficiency issues are summarized. The paper is intended to be of use to non-specialists who are interested in using pairings to design cryptographic schemes.