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The title more or less says it all.... Let $V$ be a vector space (over your favorite field; $V$ not necessarily finite dimensional), and let $S$ be a subset of $V$. A maximal linearly independent subset of $S$ is exactly that: a subset of $S$ that is linearly independent yet not properly contained in any other linearly independent subset of $S$. (Equivalently, it is a basis for the subspace of $V$ that is spanned by $S$.)

Let $T$ be the intersection of all maximal linearly independent subsets of $S$. This $T$ might be as large as $S$, when $S$ itself is linearly independent. Alternatively, $T$ might be empty: if $\{v_1,v_2,v_3\}$ is a basis for $V$, then both examples $S = {}${$v_1,2v_1$} and $S = {}${$v_1,v_2,v_3,v_1+v_2+v_3$} have corresponding $T=\emptyset$. There are plenty of intermediate cases as well: in the same notation, if $S = {}${$v_1,v_2,v_3,v_2+v_3$} then $T={}${$v_1$}.

Does this object $T$ have a standard name?

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

For a matroid the elements that are contained in every basis are called coloops, dual to the notion of a loop, which is an element not contained in any basis. Since you are interested in linearly independent sets perhaps adopting the language of matroids is not such a bad idea.

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