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This is a terrible question, I know. I can't remember the details for some reason, but I think (hope?) that anyone who's familiar with this object will immediately know what I'm talking about.

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

By going to the see-also section of the wikipedia page for linear independence, I was reminded of the term "matroid", which is almost certainly what you're looking for.

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Thanks! I was fairly sure it started with an "m" or "s" and ended with "-oid," but I wasn't able to search for that somehow! I'll accept as soon as the ten-minute embargo is up. – Daniel McLaury Feb 16 '14 at 3:57

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