A machine (or mechanical device) is a mechanical structure that uses power to apply forces and control movement to perform an intended action. Machines can be driven by animals and people, by natural forces such as wind and water, and by chemical, thermal, or electrical power, and include a system of mechanisms that shape the actuator input to achieve a specific application of output forces and movement. They can also include computers and sensors that monitor performance and plan movement, often called mechanical systems.
Renaissance natural philosophers identified six simple machines which were the elementary devices that put a load into motion, and calculated the ratio of output force to input force, known today as mechanical advantage.
Modern machines are complex systems that consist of structural elements, mechanisms and control components and include interfaces for convenient use. Examples include a wide range of vehicles, such as automobiles, boats and airplanes, appliances in the home and office, including computers, building air handling and water handling systems, as well as farm machinery, machine tools and factory automation systems and robots.
An automaton (plural: automata or automatons) is a self-operating machine. The word is sometimes used to describe a robot, more specifically an autonomous robot. A Toy Automaton was patented in 1863.
Usher reports that  reports that Hero of Alexandria's treatise on Mechanics focussed on the study of lifting heavy weights. Today mechanics refers to the mathematical analysis of the forces and movement of a mechanical system, and consists of the study of the kinematics and dynamics of these systems.
Machine design refers to the procedures and techniques used to address the three phases of a machine's lifecycle: