is a scalar, for each set of indices . You should read this expression as . The summation convention is being used, which means that you are meant to sum (from 1 to N) over each index that appears both as a superscript and as a subscript. So that expression simply denotes a linear combination of the given tensors. To prove that they are linearly independent, you put a linear combination of them equal to 0, and then you are aiming to show that each coefficient is zero.