How to get gradients of quantum circuit with PyTorch interface

I plan to use PennyLane and PyTorch to construct a hybrid quantum-classical neural network model (e.g., for binary classification). If the variational quantum circuit in the quantum module uses amplitude encoding, can I print the gradients of the loss function with respect to the quantum parameters? If possible, could you provide a specific mini code example? I want to investigate whether the quantum module will have a barren plateau problem.

Hi @cyx617 , welcome to the Forum!

Yes you can indeed print the gradients.

I used the full code example at the bottom of the TorchLayer documentation (Usage details section).

After opt.step() I added

for p in model.parameters():
          print('p.grad: ',p.grad)

This prints the gradients for the different parameters.

I’m not 100% sure that the output is what you would expect (this part is being handled by Torch) but I hope this can give you some pointers.

See the full code below!

import numpy as np
import pennylane as qml
import torch
import sklearn.datasets

n_qubits = 2
dev = qml.device("default.qubit", wires=n_qubits)

def qnode(inputs, weights):
    qml.templates.AngleEmbedding(inputs, wires=range(n_qubits))
    qml.templates.StronglyEntanglingLayers(weights, wires=range(n_qubits))
    return [qml.expval(qml.Z(0)), qml.expval(qml.Z(1))]

weight_shapes = {"weights": (3, n_qubits, 3)}

qlayer = qml.qnn.TorchLayer(qnode, weight_shapes)
clayer1 = torch.nn.Linear(2, 2)
clayer2 = torch.nn.Linear(2, 2)
softmax = torch.nn.Softmax(dim=1)
model = torch.nn.Sequential(clayer1, qlayer, clayer2, softmax)

samples = 100
x, y = sklearn.datasets.make_moons(samples)
y_hot = np.zeros((samples, 2))
y_hot[np.arange(samples), y] = 1

X = torch.tensor(x).float()
Y = torch.tensor(y_hot).float()

opt = torch.optim.SGD(model.parameters(), lr=0.5)
loss = torch.nn.L1Loss()

# Training
epochs = 8
batch_size = 5
batches = samples // batch_size

data_loader =, Y)), batch_size=batch_size,
                                          shuffle=True, drop_last=True)

for epoch in range(epochs):

    running_loss = 0

    for x, y in data_loader:

        loss_evaluated = loss(model(x), y)


        # Added this
        for p in model.parameters():
          print('p.grad: ',p.grad)

        running_loss += loss_evaluated

    avg_loss = running_loss / batches
    print("Average loss over epoch {}: {:.4f}".format(epoch + 1, avg_loss))

Hi @CatalinaAlbornoz,

Thank you so much for your answer and the code provided! I will try it out.

Let me know how it goes @cyx617 !

Hi @CatalinaAlbornoz,

The code you sent me runs successfully and prints the gradient of the quantum parameters. However, after modifying the code from this tutorial using the same method, I found that the printed gradient values of the quantum parameters are None . What could be the reason for this?

I added the following code after optimizer.zero_grad() in :

            for name, p in model_hybrid.named_parameters():
                print('name:',name,'p.grad: ',p.grad)

I think the biggest difference between the mini code example you sent me and the code is that in , qml.qnn.TorchLayer() is not used to construct the quantum layer.

Hi @cyx617 ,

I think the issue is on where you’re adding the print statement. The code below is part of the “training and results” section of the transfer learning demo (with the addition of the print statement).

When you run optimizer.zero_grad() you’re resetting the gradient so it’s normal that you don’t get the expected output if you add the print statement there. Notice that below, within the if statement, you have optimizer.step(). This is where you’re actually taking the optimization step so that’s where you can add the print statement (for p in model.parameters(): print('p.grad: ',p.grad)).

# Iterate over data.
            n_batches = dataset_sizes[phase] // batch_size
            it = 0
            for inputs, labels in dataloaders[phase]:
                since_batch = time.time()
                batch_size_ = len(inputs)
                inputs =
                labels =

                # Track/compute gradient and make an optimization step only when training
                with torch.set_grad_enabled(phase == "train"):
                    outputs = model(inputs)
                    _, preds = torch.max(outputs, 1)
                    loss = criterion(outputs, labels)
                    if phase == "train":
                        # Added this
                        for p in model.parameters():
                            print('p.grad: ',p.grad)

                # Print iteration results

Let me know if this works for you!

Hi @CatalinaAlbornoz ,

Thank you very much. The modified code works well and finally prints out the gradient values! :grin:

That’s great to hear @cyx617 !