Getting Started

Running CirKit

CirKit has a command-line interface. After calling build/programs/cirkit a shell prompt is printed to the screen. In order to see all available commands type help . This prints a list with all commands together with a short description for each of them. To see more details about a command and its usage call the command together with the -h flag. For example read_aiger -h prints options to read an AIGER file.

CirKit can be called in three different modes:

  1. Interactive mode: This is the default interactive mode that is described above.

  2. Bash mode: -c In this mode, commands are given to CirKit as command line arguments, e.g.,:

    build/programs/cirkit -c "read_aiger; cone -o y; simulate -at; quit"

    This example reads an AIGER from, reduces the network to the cone of output y, simulates the resulting network as truth table and quits. By adding the flag -e additionally each command is printed to the screen before execution, e.g.,:

    build/programs/cirkit -ec "read_aiger; cone -o y; simulate -at; quit"

    Note that single character command options (that start eith with a single -) can be concatenated, e.g., -e -c can be written as -ec.

  3. Batch mode: -f In this mode, commands are read line-by-line from a file, e.g.,:

    build/programs/cirkit -f command_file

    This mode also accepts the -e flag to print each command before execution. It is possible to comment some commands in the command file by starting a line with a # character.

Some of the main commands are:

Command Description
alias Creates an alias
help Shows all available commands
quit Quits CirKit
set Sets (internal) environment variables


Shared data in CirKit such as circuits or truth tables are stored in stores and commands can access the data from them. Each data structure has its own store and each store can hold more than one element. For example, there are seperate stores for truth table, AIGs, and BDDs. Call store -h to see all available stores. Each store comes with its own command flag to access it, e.g., -a for AIGs and -t for truth tables. Although a store can hold more than one element, it is not necessary and possible to specify which store element to access. Instead each store indivually has a pointer to the current store element and commands always access this one. In order to access a different store element, one can change the pointer using the command current. For example, current -a 1 will set the pointer in the AIG store to the element with index 1 (which is the second element in the store).


store --show -a
read_aiger -n
store --show -a
current -a 0
store --clear -a

First is read into the AIG store. The second command reads and overrides the current entry. Overriding the current store element is the default behavior of most commands. The current content of a store can be displayed with store --show -a or store -a as a short-hand. In the third line of the example, one AIG is in the store. When passing the flag -n to read_aiger as in the fourth command a new entry is added to the store and the current index is updated to the new entry, i.e., at this time the AIG store contains two elements with the current element being the second one (index 1). With current -a 0 the current index is reset to 0 and store --clear -a clears the store from all AIGs.

For many commands it is clear which store they access and it’s not necessary to specify the store. There are some generic commands which work on all data structures and require to pass the store access flag, e.g., the command store. The generic commands are:

Command Description
convert Converts store elements into other types, e.g., AIGs to BDDs
current Changes the current store pointer
print Prints a textual ASCII representation of the current store element
ps Prints statistical information about the current store element
show Visualizes the current store element (writes to a dot file)
store Shows and clears elements from the store


Passing -l file.log to cirkit creates a log file of the session. This option is particularly useful in batch mode. The log file contains a JSON array with an entry for each command. Each entry contains at least the full command that was run and the time at which the command was started to execute. Some commands write additional data into the log file. For example, ps -a writes number of inputs, outputs, and AND gates of an AIG, and quit writes several information about the computer on which CirKit has been executed. Being a JSON array, the log file can be easily parsed as many programming languages have a JSON library.

Some helper functions to parse the log file and, e.g., create ASCII tables from them can be found in utils/ Further, the Python program utils/ extracts a CirKit script file from the the log that can be run in batch mode. This can be helpful when logging an interactive session and then rerunning the commands:

$ cirkit -l session.log
cirkit> read_aiger
cirkit> ps -a
cirkit> quit
$ utils/ session.log > session.cs
$ cirkit -f session.cs

For performing experimental evaluations, the following workflow is suggested. Create two Python programs (or any other programming language) called and The program writes a CirKit script. The program reads the log file created for the script and prints out a table:

$ ./make_script.cs experiments.cs
$ cirkit -f experiments.cs -l experiments.log
$ ./make_table.cs experiments.log


The command alias allows to create aliases, which are shortcuts to commands or sequences of commands. The best place for aliass is the init file alias located in the directory that is specified in the $CIRKIT_HOME environment variable. It is recommended to set $CIRKIT_HOME to the root directory of CirKit. Examples for entries in an alias file are::

alias e2t "convert --expr_to_tt"

The alias command gets two arguments, the key and the value that is used for substituion. If the key or the value contain a space they need to be put into quotes, and internal quotes need to be escaped.

Note that they key can be any regular expression with capture groups and that the value is a formatted string that can contain placeholders for each capture string: %1% for the first capture group, %2% for the second one and so on. Note that the % sign needs to be escaped. A more complex example is an alias to read a Verilog file into an AIG using ABC::

alias "abc_verilog (.*)" "abc -c \"%%read %1%; %%blast\""

This will translate, e.g., the command abc_verilog file.v into:

abc -c "%read file.v; %blast"

Since the key is any regular expression, we can create aliases which are very expressive. The alias:

alias "(\\w+) > (\\w+)" "convert --%1%_to_%2%"

allows, e.g., to convert a truth table into an AIG using tt > aig. Putting everything together we can write scripts in CirKit such as:

abc_verilog file.v
aig > bdd
bdd -c

which reads a Verilog file into a CirKit AIG using ABC’s API, then converts the AIG into a BDD and finally computes the characteristic function of the BDD.

Aliases are also useful inside scripts when they are only required locally. Consider, e.g., one wants to convert several truth tables into AIGs, optimize them, and then write them into a file. A script for this task could look as follows:

alias "tt_aig_prog ([01]+)" "tt %1%; tt > aig; abc -c &dc2; ps -a; write_aiger %1%.aag"
tt_aig_prog 11101000
tt_aig_prog 01011101
tt_aig_prog 0110
tt_aig_prog 1001100111010111
tt_aig_prog 1101110011000000