Skip to main content

EPADEL:A Semisesquicentennial History, 1926-2000

Chapter 1 Background

This name is usually abbreviated EPADEL, although there is wide disagreement whether to pronounce the first syllable as eep or epp.
In 1926 two Lehigh University mathematicians joined forces with a colleague from the University of Pennsylvania to organize the first formal program of mathematical lectures in the section. Ultimately their activity generated the very first MAA 1  section in the eastern United States. Beginning with an application for a charter from the MAA 2 , the section was initially called the Philadelphia Section in spite of the fact that its membership ranged throughout eastern and central Pennsylvania, the whole state of Delaware, and southern New Jersey. Even today, 75 years after the founding, the Philadelphia area remains the hub of activity for a geographical region stretching from Wilkes Barre and Mansfield in the north to the tip of Delaware in the south, and from the Shippensburg- Gettysburg-Dickinson triangle in the west to the Lehigh Valley in the east.
The section has a glorious history. Before turning to that history we pause to examine briefly the background of its founding. First we outline the history of the country’s two major organizations – the MAA 3  and the AMS (American Mathematical Society). Then we chronicle their official journals, including a biographical sketch of one leading figure, Benjamin F. Finkel, who has strong ties to the area. The chapter ends with a discussion of the emergence of official sections within both the AMS and the MAA 4 .
Readers eager to read about the section’s history are encouraged to jump to Chapter 3 for an account of the founding, or to Chapter 7 and Chapter 8 for an analysis of activities over the past \(2\) years. Overall, the chapters are generally independent of one another, though a common thread runs throughout the entire work.