Judy Holdener joined Kenyon’s faculty in 1997 after spending three years at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Her scholarly interests span algebra, number theory and dynamical systems, and she co-authors research papers on these subjects with undergraduates. More recently Holdener has tapped into a life-long interest in art, creating digital and 3D-printed artwork that reflects the nature and beauty of mathematics. She has given national and international presentations about this work. In 2008, Holdener was awarded the Mathematical Association of America Ohio Section Distinguished Teaching Award and in 2003, she was awarded Kenyon’s Tomsich Science Award as well as the Board of Trustees Junior Teaching Award.

Areas of Expertise

Algebra and number theory


1994 — Doctor of Philosophy from Univ Illinois Urbana

1989 — Master of Science from Univ Illinois Urbana

1987 — Bachelor of Science from Kent State Univ Kent

Courses Recently Taught

The first-year seminar in mathematics provides an introduction to the rich and diverse nature of mathematics. Topics covered will vary from one semester to the next (depending on faculty expertise) but will typically span algebra and number theory, dynamical systems, probability and statistics, discrete mathematics, topology, geometry, logic, analysis and applied math. The course includes guest lectures from professors at Kenyon, a panel discussion with upper-class math majors and opportunities to learn about summer experiences and careers in mathematics. The course goals are threefold: 1) to provide an overview of modern mathematics, which, while not exhaustive, will expose students to some exciting open questions and research problems in mathematics; 2) to introduce students to some of the mathematical research being done at Kenyon and; 3) to answer whatever questions students might have during their first semester here, while exposing them to useful resources and opportunities that are helpful in launching a meaningful college experience. Open only to first-year students. This course does not count towards any requirement for the major. Prerequisite or corequisite: MATH 112 (or equivalent) and concurrently enrolled in another MATH, STAT or SCMP course or permission of instructor. Offered every fall semester.

The first in a three-semester calculus sequence, this course covers the basic ideas of differential calculus. Differential calculus is concerned primarily with the fundamental problem of determining instantaneous rates of change. In this course we will study instantaneous rates of change from both a qualitative geometric and a quantitative analytic perspective. We will cover in detail the underlying theory, techniques and applications of the derivative. The problem of anti-differentiation, identifying quantities given their rates of change, also will be introduced. The course will conclude by relating the process of anti-differentiation to the problem of finding the area beneath curves, thus providing an intuitive link between differential calculus and integral calculus. Those who have had a year of high school calculus but do not have advanced placement credit for MATH 111 should take the calculus placement exam to determine whether they are ready for MATH 112. Students who have 0.5 units of credit for calculus may not receive credit for MATH 111. This counts toward the core course requirement for the major. Prerequisite: solid grounding in algebra, trigonometry and elementary functions. Offered every semester.

The third in a three-semester calculus sequence, this course examines differentiation and integration in three dimensions. Topics of study include functions of more than one variable, vectors and vector algebra, partial derivatives, optimization and multiple integrals. Some of the following topics from vector calculus also will be covered as time permits: vector fields, line integrals, flux integrals, curl and divergence. This counts toward the core course requirement for the major. Prerequisite: MATH 112 or a score of 4 or 5 on the BC Calculus AP exam or permission of instructor. Offered every semester.

This course introduces students to mathematical reasoning and rigor in the context of set-theoretic questions. The course will cover basic logic and set theory, relations — including orderings, functions and equivalence relations — and the fundamental aspects of cardinality. The course will emphasize helping students read, write and understand mathematical reasoning. Students will be actively engaged in creative work in mathematics. Students interested in majoring in mathematics should take this course no later than the spring semester of their sophomore year. Advanced first-year students interested in mathematics are encouraged to consider taking this course in their first year. This counts toward the core course requirement for the major. Prerequisite: MATH 213 or permission of instructor. Offered every spring semester.

Patterns within the set of natural numbers have enticed mathematicians for well over two millennia, making number theory one of the oldest branches of mathematics. Rich with problems that are easy to state but fiendishly difficult to solve, the subject continues to fascinate professionals and amateurs alike. In this course, we will get a glimpse at both the old and the new. In the first two-thirds of the semester, we will study topics from classical number theory, focusing primarily on divisibility, congruences, arithmetic functions, sums of squares and the distribution of primes. In the final weeks we will explore some of the current questions and applications of number theory. We will study the famous RSA cryptosystem, and students will read and present some current (carefully chosen) research papers. This counts toward either a Discrete/Combinatorial (Column C) or an Algebraic (Column A) elective requirement for the major. Prerequisite: MATH 222. Offered every other year.

Abstract algebra is the study of algebraic structures that describe common properties and patterns exhibited by seemingly disparate mathematical objects. The phrase "abstract algebra" refers to the fact that some of these structures are generalizations of the material from high school algebra relating to algebraic equations and their methods of solution. In Abstract Algebra I, we focus entirely on group theory. A group is an algebraic structure that allows one to describe symmetry in a rigorous way. The theory has many applications in physics and chemistry. Since mathematical objects exhibit pattern and symmetry as well, group theory is an essential tool for the mathematician. Furthermore, group theory is the starting point in defining many other more elaborate algebraic structures including rings, fields and vector spaces. In this course, we will cover the basics of groups, including the classification of finitely generated abelian groups, factor groups, the three isomorphism theorems and group actions. The course culminates in a study of Sylow theory. Throughout the semester there will be an emphasis on examples, many of them coming from calculus, linear algebra, discrete math and elementary number theory. There also will be a couple of projects illustrating how a formal algebraic structure can empower one to tackle seemingly difficult questions about concrete objects (e.g., the Rubik's cube or the card game SET). Finally, there will be a heavy emphasis on the reading and writing of mathematical proofs. Junior standing is recommended. This counts toward the Algebraic (Column A) elective requirement for the major. Prerequisite: MATH 222 or permission of instructor. Offered every other fall.

This course picks up where MATH 335 ends, focusing primarily on rings and fields. Serving as a good generalization of the structure and properties exhibited by the integers, a ring is an algebraic structure consisting of a set together with two operations — addition and multiplication. If a ring has the additional property that division is well-defined, one gets a field. Fields provide a useful generalization of many familiar number systems: the rational numbers, the real numbers and the complex numbers. Topics to be covered include polynomial rings; ideals; homomorphisms and ring quotients; Euclidean domains, principal ideal domains, unique factorization domains; the Gaussian integers; factorization techniques and irreducibility criteria. The final block of the semester will serve as an introduction to field theory, covering algebraic field extensions, symbolic adjunction of roots; construction with ruler and compass; and finite fields. Throughout the semester there will be an emphasis on examples, many of them coming from calculus, linear algebra, discrete math and elementary number theory. There also will be a heavy emphasis on the reading and writing of mathematical proofs. This counts toward the Algebraic (Column A) elective requirement for the major. Prerequisite: MATH 335. Offered every other spring.

Individual study is a privilege reserved for students who want to pursue a course of reading or complete a research project on a topic not regularly offered in the curriculum. It is intended to supplement, not take the place of, coursework. Individual study cannot be used to fulfill requirements for the major. Individual studies will earn 0.25–0.50 units of credit. To qualify, a student must identify a member of the mathematics department willing to direct the project. The professor, in consultation with the student, will create a tentative syllabus (including a list of readings and/or problems, goals and tasks) and describe in some detail the methods of assessment (e.g., problem sets to be submitted for evaluation biweekly; a 20-page research paper submitted at the course's end, with rough drafts due at given intervals, and so on). The department expects the student to meet regularly with his or her instructor for at least one hour per week. All standard enrollment/registration deadlines for regular college courses apply. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the end of the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of the proposed individual study preferably the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval before the registrar's deadline. Individual study course may be counted as electives in the mathematics major, subject to consultation with and approval by the department of Mathematics and Statistics. Permission of instructor and department chair required. No prerequisite.\n\n

This course will consist largely of an independent project in which students read several sources to learn about a mathematical topic that complements material studied in other courses, usually an already completed depth sequence. This study will culminate in an expository paper and a public or semi-public presentation before an audience consisting of at least several members of the mathematics faculty as well as an outside examiner. Permission of department chair required. Prerequisite: Senior standing and the completion of at least one two-semester sequence at the junior-senor level.