Get started with python-igraph

Install and start using python-igraph


igraph is on the Python Package Index with pre-compiled wheels for most Python distributions and platforms, so in most cases it can simply be installed using pip:

$ pip install python-igraph

The command above should attempt to download a pre-compiled wheel if your platform and Python version are among the supported ones. Currently we aim to support Windows, Linux and macOS for at least the three most recent minor versions of Python 3.x. If you are still using Python 2.7, python-igraph 0.8.x is the latest version that you should attempt to install.

In cases where we don't provide a pre-compiled wheel, the command above will attempt to compile the Python interface of igraph during installation. See the next section about the requirements for compiling python-igraph from source.

 Compiling from source

In general, you will need a working C and C++ compiler, a POSIX-compatible shell environment (MSYS2 on Windows is okay), make, and the development header files for your version of Python. You will also need libxml2 for GraphML support. libxml2 might have additional dependencies depending on your platform; for instance, you also need zlib1g-dev on Linux; more about these in the platform-specific instructions below.

The source code of the Python interface bundles a matching version of the C core of the igraph library, and this will be linked to the compiled Python interface statically during the build process, so if everything is installed properly, you can simply run the following command even if we provide no matching pre-compiled wheel:

$ pip install python-igraph

However, if the C core of igraph has already been installed to a location that can be discovered using pkg-config, you can also instruct the setup script to use pkg-config instead of compiling the bundled version with pip will compile and link the extension to the C core that you have installed. First you need to download and extract the source code of the Python interface:

$ pip download --no-deps --no-binary :all: python-igraph
$ tar -xvvzf python-igraph-0.9.1.tar.gz
$ cd python-igraph-0.9.1

Next, make sure that pkg-config can correctly report the compilation flags needed to link to igraph; the following command should list a bunch of compiler and linker flags instead of reporting an error:

$ pkg-config --cflags --libs igraph

Finally, ask the setup script to compile python-igraph and use pkg-config for the detection of the C core:

$ python build --use-pkg-config
$ python install

See the sections below for additional, platform-specific instructions.

  Compilation on Linux

On Debian and Ubuntu Linux, installing build-essential, python-dev (or python3.X-dev for your matching version of Python), libxml2-dev and zlib1g-dev should be enough to get you started. The latter two are needed only if you need GraphML support. Running pip install --user python-igraph after having installed all these dependencies should then work out-of-the-box.

If you are using some other Linux distribution, try to find the packages equivalent to the ones mentioned above; in general, you will need the usual development tools (at least a C and C++ compiler and make), the development headers for your Python version, and the development headers for libxml2 if you need GraphML support. Feel free to send us a message in the discussion forum if you can provide more specific instructions for a popular Linux flavour that we have not listed here.

  Compilation on macOS

On macOS, you can get a working C and C++ compiler as well as make by installing XCode or the XCode Command Line Tools. Running pip install python-igraph should then work out-of-the-box.

You can also install a pre-compiled version of the C core of igraph from Homebrew. This can be used in conjunction with pkg-config as outlined in the section about compiling from source to link the Python interface to the C core installed from Homebrew.

  Compilation on Windows

Compilation on Windows is more complicated than on other platforms because the C core of igraph needs to be built in a POSIX shell-like environment at the moment, but the Python interface has to be compiled with Microsoft Visual C instead (like all other Python extensions). Ideally, you should be able to use one of the pre-compiled wheels, but in case you can't, here is a rough outline of how we managed to get it work in our continuous integration environment. As we do not use Windows regularly, these instructions might need small tweaks; any improvements are appreciated in our discussion forum.

First, you need to follow the instructions on the Python wiki to install the version of the Microsoft Visual C++ Compiler that matches your Python version.

Next, you also need to download MSYS2, which provides a shell environment in which the C core of igraph can be compiled.

Then you need to install a bunch of dependencies in MSYS2. Open up the MSYS2 shell and run the following command:

$ pacman --needed --noconfirm -Sy pacman-mirrors
$ pacman --noconfirm -Sy
$ pacman --noconfirm -S autoconf automake bison flex \
        libtool mingw-w64-x86_64-libtool zip \
        mingw-w64-i686-libxml2 mingw-w64-x86_64-libxml2

Then you need to download the source code of python-igraph from PyPI and extract it to a folder. Open the MSYS2 shell, enter this folder and run python build_c_core. This should compile the C core of the Python interface with MSYS2. You are not done yet, read on.

Once the C core is compiled, you need to switch back to the "regular" WIndows shell, make sure that the Visual C compiler is on your PATH (typically there are scripts in the Visual Studio installation that let you launch a development shell with MSVC on your PATH), and then run python build, followed by python install.

Note that the instructions above work in our CI environment, but your environment might be different from ours so these instructions might require small tweaks. Improvements are welcome; please open a thread in our discussion forum if you can add more specific instructions.


  • A short tutorial is provided on this page.
  • The documentation of the Graph and GraphBase classes provide a good overview of most of the functionality in the Python interface.

 Python manual

Documentation for the Python interface is also included in the Python docstrings, so you can use pydoc or the built-in Python help facility as well.

  Current release – version 0.9.1

  Development version

Clone (or fork) the master branch from the python-igraph git repository on GitHub.

 igraph support forum

Post your question on the igraph support forum . Make sure that you include a minimal reproducible example, complete with code and data.

 Stack Overflow

Post specific igraph questions on Stack Overflow. Make sure that you include the igraph tag and that you include a reproducible example, complete with code and data.

  Report bugs

Report bugs or suggest new features or algorithms in the GitHub issue tracker.

Your contribution is more than welcome!

  Contribute code

Send a pull request on GitHub. Please note that igraph can contain only code that is compatible with its GPL license.