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Should I hyphenate the phrase "pedestrian detection algorithm" in the example sentence below? The algorithm is designed to detect pedestrians. However, I am worried that it could be misread as a pedestrian "detection algorithm", whereby the phrase "detection algorithm" is being modified by the adjective "pedestrian".

The pedestrian detection algorithm detects the humans in the ROI using two-step (LBP-AdaBoost and HOG-SVM) classifiers.

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    "I am worried that ..." Needless worry. Absence of hyphen does not create ambiguity here because the context is entirely clear. Use the hyphenated phrase where there's an eminent case of potential ambiguity unlike here.
    – Kris
    Jan 21, 2015 at 7:21
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    @Kris: That's an answer, not a comment. Jan 21, 2015 at 7:30

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Yes, you should. There is no real risk of introducing confusion or annoyance in the reader by including it, and some significant risk of leaving confusion if you leave it out. "Pedestrian-detection" sounds and reads smoothly enough.

I don't have Chicago Manual of Style on hand, but an answer to a more general question suggests that 6.39 applies, which would recommend hyphenation here.

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  • So "road-construction materials" and "witness-protection program" would also be okay? I tried to come up with a combination posing a risk of befuddling the reader similar to that posed by the sentence proposed by Robert, but couldn't find such a combination offhand. Jan 21, 2015 at 6:56
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    They'd be OK, yes, but per my comment on your answer, not really necessary. There's no benefit to speak of, and although the cost is minimal, that doesn't help much. Only a really persnickety editor would come down hard on that, though. Jan 21, 2015 at 6:57
  • Nathan, that's an opinion, not an answer.
    – Kris
    Jan 21, 2015 at 7:21
  • @Kris Hopefully this is now beyond a mere opinion. Jan 21, 2015 at 7:40
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    I heard an actually ambiguous example on the radio today when a DJ asked his colleagues, "What's the longest living creature in the world?" and they had to ask for clarification, since you can't [always] hear hyphens. Jan 22, 2015 at 18:06
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Just hyphenate it normally. "pedestrian-detection algorithm" since pedestrian-detection is the name of the algorithm.

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    sounds like circular logic to me. Nobody said the name of the algorith was "Pedestrian-Detection". In fact, if the name were to appear without the word "algorithm", a hyphen would be not only unnecessary, but out of place. Feb 2, 2015 at 23:46

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