Today’s prompt is to write a concrete poem, which, I’ll admit, I wasn’t too keen on until I started writing. And then it was really fun! I do feel that this poem requires a little bit of explanation since it concerns my day job (and I love to talk about my day job). Skip the next paragraph if you don’t want a lecture.
In measurement, psychometricians use θ to represent a person’s ability (e.g., reading ability, nursing skills, etc.). Under item response theory, a particular family of statistical models, θ can be estimated using maximum likelihood (ML). ML involves many, many iterations over a theorized conditional distribution of θ; as students, we are given the simile that ML is like climbing a mountain. Once the algorithm has (hopefully) converged, we obtain a mathematical estimate of θ. We put a ^, or hat, on θ to signify that this is our best guess of ability and not its true value. Pretty cool, huh?