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in internal-combustion engines, rotating shaft with attached disks of irregular shape (the cams), which actuate the intake and exhaust valves of the cylinders. The cams and the camshaft are usually formed as a unit, with the cams set at angles so as to open and close the valves in a prescribed sequence as the cams rotate. A separate camshaft for each row of cylinders is driven by gears or chains from the crankshaft.