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I have a few questions about the meaning and usage of the expression the + V-ing + of. Here's an example I found in M&W dictionary. In this case, it is used in defining the word "assemble".

the fitting together of manufactured parts into a complete machine, structure, or unit of a machine the assembly of an automobile

It appears to me that the gerund here refers to the process of assembling manufactured parts into a complete machine. Is my interpretation correct? Also, I'd like to know if it could be used in academic writing.

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Yes, you interpreted correctly, and you can use similar construction in academic writing. The example you quoted seems to have a missing 'in' after the second 'machine'.

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