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In our software, we extract/detect information from/on images, e.g., face features and hand gestures.

When referring to these processes, should it be...?

  • "face feature extraction" and "hand gesture detection"
    or
  • "face-feature extraction" and "hand-gesture detection"
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  • Is there some reason not to use extraction of facial features and detection of hand gestures?
    – tchrist
    May 26 at 16:36
  • @tchrist No, there is no reason to not use that phrasing. And I agree, it might be better. However, I still would like to learn the hyphenation rules for the phrasing I've chosen in the question. :-) May 26 at 18:18
  • Feature should be singular in face feature extraction or face-feature extraction, just as a publisher of books is a book publisher.
    – phoog
    May 28 at 6:01
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The hyphen is not needed because these are noun phrases and they are being used as nouns. They are not being turned into adjectival modifiers. You are detecting hand gestures, ergo hand gesture detection. You are extracting face features (though I'd recommend calling that facial features), ergo facial feature extraction. Just like with heavy metal detection, no hyphen is needed.

Compare with: He's a hand-gesture junkie. Wherein hand-gesture is modifying and describing what type of junkie he is, and acts as a single adjective.

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  • Thanks for the explanation. But I still don't get why it's different with "junkie" instead of "detection". The following would also have sounded plausible to me: "hand-gesture detection. Wherein hand-gesture is modifying and describing what type of detection it is, and acts as a single adjective." Why is it different? Jun 5 at 5:01
  • Simplest explanation: hand gestures are what is being detected. In hand-gesture junkie: the junkie is addicted to hand gestures. It is describing what type of junkie he is. Vs. the original example which describes what is detected. Jun 5 at 8:40
  • Thanks. I think I got it now. I'll practice becoming more sensitive to this difference. :) Jun 6 at 6:57
  • And my brain again tries to sabotage me by changing your explanation to the following alternative. -_- "It is describing what type of junkie he is. Vs. the original example which describes what type of detection it is." Jun 6 at 6:59
  • Look at like this: I am detecting hand gestures. I am junkie FOR hand gestures. Jun 6 at 14:22

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