Visualizing a Quantum Circuit

from qiskit import QuantumCircuit, ClassicalRegister, QuantumRegister

Drawing a Quantum Circuit

When building a quantum circuit, it often helps to draw the circuit. This is supported natively by a QuantumCircuit object. You can either call print() on the circuit, or call the draw() method on the object. This will render a ASCII art version of the circuit diagram.

# Build a quantum circuit
circuit = QuantumCircuit(3, 3)

circuit.h(range(3)), 1)
circuit.measure(range(3), range(3));
     ┌───┐          ┌─┐
q_0: ┤ H ├───────■──┤M├───
q_1: ┤ X ├┤ H ├┤ X ├─╫─┤M├
     ├───┤└┬─┬┘└───┘ ║ └╥┘
q_2: ┤ H ├─┤M├───────╫──╫─
     └───┘ └╥┘       ║  ║
c_0: ═══════╬════════╩══╬═
            ║           ║
c_1: ═══════╬═══════════╩═
c_2: ═══════╩═════════════

     ┌───┐          ┌─┐
q_0: ┤ H ├───────■──┤M├───
q_1: ┤ X ├┤ H ├┤ X ├─╫─┤M├
     ├───┤└┬─┬┘└───┘ ║ └╥┘
q_2: ┤ H ├─┤M├───────╫──╫─
     └───┘ └╥┘       ║  ║
c_0: ═══════╬════════╩══╬═
            ║           ║
c_1: ═══════╬═══════════╩═
c_2: ═══════╩═════════════

Alternative Renderers for Circuits

A text output is useful for quickly seeing the output while developing a circuit, but it doesn’t provide the most flexibility in its output. There are two alternative output renderers for the quantum circuit. One uses matplotlib, and the other uses LaTeX, which leverages the qcircuit package. These can be specified by using mpl and latex values for the output kwarg on the draw() method.

# Matplotlib Drawing

Controlling output from circuit.draw()

By default, the draw() method returns the rendered image as an object and does not output anything. The exact class returned depends on the output specified: 'text' (the default) returns a TextDrawer object, 'mpl' returns a matplotlib.Figure object, and latex returns a PIL.Image object. Having the return types enables modifying or directly interacting with the rendered output from the drawers. Jupyter notebooks understand these return types and render them for us in this tutorial, but when running outside of Jupyter, you do not have this feature automatically. However, the draw() method has optional arguments to display or save the output. When specified, the filename kwarg takes a path to which it saves the rendered output. Alternatively, if you’re using the mpl or latex outputs, you can leverage the interactive kwarg to open the image in a new window (this will not always work from within a notebook but will be demonstrated anyway).

Customizing the output

Depending on the output, there are also options to customize the circuit diagram rendered by the circuit.

Disable Plot Barriers and Reversing Bit Order

The first two options are shared among all three backends. They allow you to configure both the bit orders and whether or not you draw barriers. These can be set by the reverse_bits kwarg and plot_barriers kwarg, respectively. The examples below will work with any output backend; mpl is used here for brevity.

# Draw a new circuit with barriers and more registers

q_a = QuantumRegister(3, name='qa')
q_b = QuantumRegister(5, name='qb')
c_a = ClassicalRegister(3)
c_b = ClassicalRegister(5)

circuit = QuantumCircuit(q_a, q_b, c_a, c_b)

circuit.cswap(q_b[0], q_b[1], q_b[2])
circuit.cswap(q_b[2], q_b[3], q_b[4])
circuit.cswap(q_b[3], q_b[4], q_b[0])
circuit.measure(q_a, c_a)
circuit.measure(q_b, c_b);
# Draw the circuit
# Draw the circuit with reversed bit order
circuit.draw(output='mpl', reverse_bits=True)
# Draw the circuit without barriers
circuit.draw(output='mpl', plot_barriers=False)
# Draw the circuit without barriers and reverse bit order
circuit.draw(output='mpl', plot_barriers=False, reverse_bits=True)

Backend-specific customizations

Some available customizing options are specific to a backend. The line_length kwarg for the text backend can be used to set a maximum width for the output. When a diagram is wider than the maximum, it will wrap the diagram below. The mpl backend has the style kwarg, which is used to customize the output. The scale option is used by the mpl and latex backends to scale the size of the output image with a multiplicative adjustment factor. The style kwarg takes in a dict with multiple options, providing a high level of flexibility for changing colors, changing rendered text for different types of gates, different line styles, etc. Available options are:

  • textcolor (str): The color code to use for text. Defaults to '#000000'

  • subtextcolor (str): The color code to use for subtext. Defaults to '#000000'

  • linecolor (str): The color code to use for lines. Defaults to '#000000'

  • creglinecolor (str): The color code to use for classical register lines '#778899'

  • gatetextcolor (str): The color code to use for gate text '#000000'

  • gatefacecolor (str): The color code to use for gates. Defaults to '#ffffff'

  • barrierfacecolor (str): The color code to use for barriers. Defaults to '#bdbdbd'

  • backgroundcolor (str): The color code to use for the background. Defaults to '#ffffff'

  • fontsize (int): The font size to use for text. Defaults to 13

  • subfontsize (int): The font size to use for subtext. Defaults to 8

  • displaytext (dict): A dictionary of the text to use for each element type in the output visualization. The default values are:

    'id': 'id',
    'u0': 'U_0',
    'u1': 'U_1',
    'u2': 'U_2',
    'u3': 'U_3',
    'x': 'X',
    'y': 'Y',
    'z': 'Z',
    'h': 'H',
    's': 'S',
    'sdg': 'S^\\dagger',
    't': 'T',
    'tdg': 'T^\\dagger',
    'rx': 'R_x',
    'ry': 'R_y',
    'rz': 'R_z',
    'reset': '\\left|0\\right\\rangle'

    You must specify all the necessary values if using this. There is no provision for an incomplete dict passed in.

  • displaycolor (dict): The color codes to use for each circuit element. By default, all values default to the value of gatefacecolor and the keys are the same as displaytext. Also, just like displaytext, there is no provision for an incomplete dict passed in.

  • latexdrawerstyle (bool): When set to True, enable LaTeX mode, which will draw gates like the latex output modes.

  • usepiformat (bool): When set to True, use radians for output.

  • fold (int): The number of circuit elements at which to fold the circuit. Defaults to 20

  • cregbundle (bool): If set True, bundle classical registers.

  • showindex (bool): If set True, draw an index.

  • compress (bool): If set True, draw a compressed circuit.

  • figwidth (int): The maximum width (in inches) for the output figure.

  • dpi (int): The DPI to use for the output image. Defaults to 150.

  • creglinestyle (str): The style of line to use for classical registers. Choices are 'solid', 'doublet', or any valid matplotlib linestyle kwarg value. Defaults to doublet.

# Set line length to 80 for above circuit
            ░ ┌───┐ ░    ┌─┐
qa_0: ──────░─┤ H ├─░────┤M├───────────────────────────
      ┌───┐ ░ ├───┤ ░    └╥┘┌─┐
qa_1: ┤ X ├─░─┤ H ├─░─────╫─┤M├────────────────────────
      └───┘ ░ ├───┤ ░     ║ └╥┘┌─┐
qa_2: ──────░─┤ H ├─░─────╫──╫─┤M├─────────────────────
            ░ ├───┤ ░     ║  ║ └╥┘    ░ ┌─┐
qb_0: ──────░─┤ H ├─■─────╫──╫──╫──X──░─┤M├────────────
      ┌───┐ ░ ├───┤ │     ║  ║  ║  │  ░ └╥┘┌─┐
qb_1: ┤ X ├─░─┤ H ├─X─────╫──╫──╫──┼──░──╫─┤M├─────────
      ├───┤ ░ ├───┤ │     ║  ║  ║  │  ░  ║ └╥┘┌─┐
qb_2: ┤ X ├─░─┤ H ├─X──■──╫──╫──╫──┼──░──╫──╫─┤M├──────
      └───┘ ░ ├───┤    │  ║  ║  ║  │  ░  ║  ║ └╥┘┌─┐
qb_3: ──────░─┤ H ├────X──╫──╫──╫──■──░──╫──╫──╫─┤M├───
      ┌───┐ ░ ├───┤    │  ║  ║  ║  │  ░  ║  ║  ║ └╥┘┌─┐
qb_4: ┤ X ├─░─┤ H ├────X──╫──╫──╫──X──░──╫──╫──╫──╫─┤M├
      └───┘ ░ └───┘       ║  ║  ║     ░  ║  ║  ║  ║ └╥┘
c0_0: ════════════════════╩══╬══╬════════╬══╬══╬══╬══╬═
                             ║  ║        ║  ║  ║  ║  ║
c0_1: ═══════════════════════╩══╬════════╬══╬══╬══╬══╬═
                                ║        ║  ║  ║  ║  ║
c0_2: ══════════════════════════╩════════╬══╬══╬══╬══╬═
                                         ║  ║  ║  ║  ║
c1_0: ═══════════════════════════════════╩══╬══╬══╬══╬═
                                            ║  ║  ║  ║
c1_1: ══════════════════════════════════════╩══╬══╬══╬═
                                               ║  ║  ║
c1_2: ═════════════════════════════════════════╩══╬══╬═
                                                  ║  ║
c1_3: ════════════════════════════════════════════╩══╬═
c1_4: ═══════════════════════════════════════════════╩═
# Change the background color in mpl

style = {'backgroundcolor': 'lightgreen'}

circuit.draw(output='mpl', style=style)
# Scale the mpl output to 1/2 the normal size
circuit.draw(output='mpl', scale=0.5)

circuit_drawer() as function

If you have an application where you prefer to draw a circuit with a self-contained function instead of as a method of a circuit object, you can directly use the circuit_drawer() function, which is part of the public stable interface from The function behaves identically to the circuit.draw() method, except that it takes in a circuit object as required argument.

Note: In Qiskit Terra <= 0.7, the default behavior for the circuit_drawer() function is to use the latex output backend, and in 0.6.x that includes a fallback to mpl if latex fails for any reason. Starting with release > 0.7, the default changes to the text output.

from import circuit_drawer
circuit_drawer(circuit, output='mpl', plot_barriers=False)

Version Information

Qiskit SoftwareVersion
IBM Q Provider0.7.0
System information
Python3.8.2 (default, Mar 26 2020, 10:43:30) [Clang 4.0.1 (tags/RELEASE_401/final)]
Memory (Gb)16.0
Fri May 08 08:43:36 2020 EDT

This code is a part of Qiskit

© Copyright IBM 2017, 2020.

This code is licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0. You may
obtain a copy of this license in the LICENSE.txt file in the root directory
of this source tree or at

Any modifications or derivative works of this code must retain this
copyright notice, and modified files need to carry a notice indicating
that they have been altered from the originals.

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