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I am writing a neural network application. In this application, a neural network can have one or more hidden layers, which can have different sizes (neuron counts).

Which label would be correct: "hidden layer sizes" or "hidden layers sizes" and why? I realize this is a more general grammar related question and I'd love to learn about it.

EDIT: the label is for a text box, where user will enter numbers separated by commas.

marked as duplicate by RegDwigнt Oct 23 '14 at 8:43

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    It's shoe stores, book shelves, student lists, lesson counts, beer bottles, layer sizes. – RegDwigнt Oct 23 '14 at 8:46

In your phrase, hidden layer is an attributive noun: it's a noun which behaves as an adjective modifying sizes.

In English, adjectives are not inflected for number; that is, the form of an adjective doesn't change depending on the number of what it's describing. [This differs from French, for example.]

  • One red apple
  • Two red apples

Thus your "adjective" hidden layer should be singular.


I would opt for hidden layer sizes.

I'm guessing the label is for a table or graph and you're labeling a list of different sizes. Since you're showing multiple sizes, so you pluralise "size".

"Hidden layer" is simply a specifier; it specifies the things that have the sizes that you are showing.

@FumbleFingers makes a very good point in the comments: labeling on graphs and charts tend to use the singular for things like table headings or axis titles. In that case, hidden layer size would be a better option.

However, if the label is for the graph/table/figure as a whole, then pluralising "sizes" probably is appropriate. In which case, the preceding holds: pluralise "size" not "later".

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    I disagree. In the vast majority of cases, labels on graphs, charts, lists, etc. specify things like height, age, sex, location in the singular form, even if there are multiple such elements within the thing referenced. – FumbleFingers Oct 22 '14 at 18:27
  • Good point, @FumbleFingers; I've updated my answer. – Dancrumb Oct 22 '14 at 18:33
  • Downvote duly reversed. But I'll leave the original comment, since you've referenced it in the answer text. – FumbleFingers Oct 22 '14 at 18:35
  • The label is for user input (text box), I've also edited the question to mention that. – PawelP Oct 22 '14 at 18:36

I would use one of

  • hidden layer sizes (preferred usage)
  • sizes of hidden layers
  • hidden layers' sizes (colloquial usage)

I can't quite visualize the question, actually. You wrote that it is to be a label for an input text box. Why would a single input require a plural? I am trying hard to imagine by thinking about the following examples.

Is it like this

Hidden layer ID:   [         ]
Hidden layer size: [         ]


Hidden layers' size comma-list: [7, 20, 11, 19]

Hidden layer sizes comma-list: [7, 20, 11, 19]

Hidden layer sizes: [7] [20] [11] [19]

Average hidden layer size: [14.25]

Max hidden layer size: [20]

Hidden layer size range: [7] [20]

Show hidden layer sizes: []YES []NO

Show size of hidden layers: []YES []NO


  • It's like Hidden layer sizes comma-list: [7, 20, 11, 19]'. Appreciate your detailed approach. – PawelP Oct 24 '14 at 7:43

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