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Hydraulics is a topic in applied science and engineering dealing with the mechanical properties of liquids. Fluid mechanics provides the theoretical foundation for hydraulics, which focuses on the engineering uses of fluid properties. In fluid power, hydraulics is used for the generation, control, and transmission of power by the use of pressurized liquids. Hydraulic topics range through most science and engineering disciplines, and cover concepts such as pipe flow, dam design, fluidics and fluid control circuitry, pumps, turbines, hydropower, computational fluid dynamics, flow measurement, river channel behavior and erosion.

Free surface hydraulics is the branch of hydraulics dealing with free surface flow, such as occurring in rivers, canals, lakes, estuaries and seas. Its sub-field open channel flow studies the flow in open channels.

The word "hydraulics" originates from the Greek word ὑδραυλικός (hydraulikos) which in turn originates from ὕδωρ (hydor, Greek for water) and αὐλός (aulos, meaning pipe).


Ancient and medieval era

Early uses of water power date back to Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt, where irrigation has been used since the 6th millennium BC and water clocks had been used since the early 2nd millennium BC. Other early examples of water power include the Qanat system in ancient Persia and the Turpan water system in ancient China.

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