In Qiskit, is the partial_trace function able to do a partial trace over registers, as opposed to over individual qubits?

In the code example below, I have four registers (reg1 thru reg4) and I am trying to call partial_trace with a list of register to trace out.

This does not work; the code throws the following exception:

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "stack_overflow_question.py", line 34, in <module>
    density_matrix = partial_trace(result.get_statevector(), traced_over_registers)
  File "/Users/brunorijsman/git-personal/quantum-internet-hackathon-2022/venv/lib/python3.8/site-packages/qiskit/quantum_info/states/utils.py", line 45, in partial_trace
    traced_shape = state._op_shape.remove(qargs=qargs)
  File "/Users/brunorijsman/git-personal/quantum-internet-hackathon-2022/venv/lib/python3.8/site-packages/qiskit/quantum_info/operators/op_shape.py", line 354, in remove
    if qargs_l and max(qargs_l) >= self._num_qargs_l:
TypeError: '>' not supported between instances of 'QuantumRegister' and 'QuantumRegister'

Note: I know how to do a partial trace over individual qubits (see for example this question or this question. I am asking specifically how to trace out entire registers rather than individual qubits.

The code:

from qiskit import Aer, QuantumCircuit, QuantumRegister, transpile
from qiskit.quantum_info import partial_trace

qc = QuantumCircuit()

reg1 = QuantumRegister(2)

reg2 = QuantumRegister(2)

reg3 = QuantumRegister(2)

reg4 = QuantumRegister(2)

# It's not relevant to the question what exactly is done in the circuit
qc.cnot(reg1[0], reg2[0])
qc.cnot(reg3[0], reg4[0])

simulator = Aer.get_backend("aer_simulator")
transpiled_qc = transpile(qc, simulator)
result = simulator.run(transpiled_qc).result()
traced_over_registers = [reg2, reg4 ]
density_matrix = partial_trace(result.get_statevector(), traced_over_registers)

1 Answer 1


In Qiskit, a QuantumRegister knows nothing about the circuit it belongs to. So, partial_trace can't accept a register to trace over, because it can't identify the subsystem in the given state which corresponds to this register.

However, you can easily get the list of circuit qubits which belong to a quantum register or more as follows:

traced_over_qubits = [ qc.qubits.index(qubit) for qubit in reg2[:] + reg4[:] ]
density_matrix = partial_trace(result.get_statevector(), traced_over_qubits)
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, this works. $\endgroup$ Dec 18, 2022 at 11:15

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