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ndscan – N-dimensional scans for ARTIQ

ndscan extends the ARTIQ real-time laboratory control system with the concept of fragments – building blocks that accept parameters and produce result data – and tools for productively working with experiments consisting of many such parts. In particular, ndscan allows users to easily override parameters from anywhere in the system on the fly, and to acquire data by iterating over (“scanning”) any number of them at a time.

See the documentation for more information.

ndscan is beta-grade software. While the system has been carefully architected and the library is in active use within the Ion Trap Quantum Computing Group, large parts of the implementation are still best considered a minimum viable product. If you cannot work out how a particular use case would be addressed using the library, please do get in touch: Many common lab scenarios will already be accommodated by the current design, but perhaps the necessary interfaces were not publicly exposed to keep the library easy to learn and flexible in terms of implementation during initial development. Other tasks might require extensions to the library, but detailed design ideas for them might already exist.

Quickstart guide

To get started with ndscan, first prepare a Python 3.8+ environment with ARTIQ as usual (Nix, Conda or some form of virtualenv is recommended). As of ARTIQ 7 (m-labs/artiq@dd928fc), the upstream ARTIQ version can be used without additional changes; for ARTIQ 6, see dnadlinger/artiq@release-6-ndscan for a few required patches.

Once your environment is set up, install this package. For example, to use ndscan directly from the Git checkout:

(artiq) $ python develop

If you haven't already, also install the oitg package.

You are then ready to run the sample experiments. Start the ARTIQ master process as usual

(artiq) $ artiq_master

and launch the dashboard with the ndscan plugin loaded

(artiq) $ artiq_dashboard -p ndscan.dashboard_plugin

Now, navigate to the examples/ file in the experiment explorer, and you should be able to play around with the scan interface. (Applets are created automatically; you might want to set the CCB mode to "Create and enable/disable applets" in the applets dock.)

To avoid all the scan results continuously accumulating in the dataset database, run the janitor process:

(artiq) $ ndscan_dataset_janitor

ndscan_dataset_janitor tracks when experiments finish and cleans up the generated datasets after a few minutes of delay. It should typically be started alongside artiq_master.

Developer notes

Please refer to the documentation for more details, in particular the coding conventions and design retrospective sections.

conda/ contains a very rudimentary Conda package definition for ease of integration with a legacy continuous integration pipeline used in the Oxford Ion Trap Quantum Computing group. The package has a number of issues (e.g. missing dependencies), and won't ever be published on a public channel, as the ARTIQ community is moving away from Conda.


If you are using ndscan (or it seems potentially interesting to you), feedback would be very much appreciated, either using the GitHub issue tracker or via email at


N-dimensional scans for ARTIQ




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