The Narrative Logic of Rube Goldberg Machines

  • David OlsenEmail author
  • Mark J. NelsonEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10690)


Rube Goldberg’s cartoons famously depict absurd, unreasonably complex machines invented by Professor Lucifer G. Butts to carry out simple tasks. Rube Goldberg machine has now become a byword for overly complicated machinery or bureaucracy of any kind. The specific structure of Goldberg’s original cartoons, however, is quite interesting. Beyond simply being complex, his machines are based on a particular repertoire of objects used in stereotypical, coincidental, and comical ways, exhibiting almost as much of a narrative logic as a mechanical logic. In this paper, we analyze the structure of these cartoon machines’ construction, with a view towards being able to generate them using a planning formalization of this analysis.


Rube Goldberg machine Computational humor Narrative generation Planning 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aeiouy Computer Media and EntertainmentHollisterUSA
  2. 2.The MetaMakers InstituteFalmouth UniversityCornwallUK

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