Classical interfaces overview

Module name: pennylane.interfaces

PennyLane now provides experimental support for additional classical machine learning interfaces, specifically PyTorch and TensorFlow eager execution mode.

Depending on the classical machine learning interface chosen, you may be able to offload the classical portion of your hybrid model onto an accelerator, such as a GPU or TPU.


By default, when constructing a QNode, PennyLane allows the underlying quantum function to accept any default Python types (for example, floats, ints, lists) as well as NumPy array arguments, and will always return NumPy arrays representing the returned expectation values. To enable the QNode to then be used in arbitrary hybrid classical-quantum computation, you can make use of the wrapped version of NumPy provided by PennyLane (via autograd):

from pennylane import numpy as np

Any classical computation in the model can then make use of arbitrary NumPy functions, while retaining support for automatic differentiation. For an example, see the hybrid computation tutorial.

However, PennyLane has the ability to contruct quantum nodes can also be used in conjunction with other classical machine learning libraries; in such a case, the QNode is modified such that

  1. It accepts and returns the correct object types expected by the classical machine learning library (i.e., Python default types and NumPy array for the PennyLane-provided wrapped NumPy, torch.tensor for PyTorch, and tf.Tensor or tfe.Variable for TensorFlow), and
  2. It correctly passes the quantum analytic gradient to the classical machine learning library during backpropagation.

We now support additional classical interfaces in PennyLane, beginning with PyTorch and TensorFlow eager execution mode.