Course Syllabus

Please note that the specifics of this Course Syllabus are subject to change. Instructors will notify students of any changes and students will be responsible for abiding by them. Even if you print this syllabus, please check the online version often.


IST 230: Language, Logic, and Discrete Mathematics (3 credits) - Introduction to formal languages, mathematical logic, and discrete mathematics, with applications to information sciences and technology.

IST 230 is one of the five introductory core courses for the baccalaureate degree program in Information Sciences and Technology. The purpose of IST 230 is to provide students with an understanding of an array of mathematical concepts and methods which form the foundation of modern information science, in a form that will be relevant and useful for IST students. Exams and assignments will be used to assess that understanding. IST 230 will draw some of its material from several mathematical disciplines: formal language theory, mathematical logic, and discrete mathematics. In-depth treatments of each of these subjects are offered elsewhere in the University as advanced mathematics and computer science courses. The difference is that IST 230 will present these concepts in a more elementary way, with much more emphasis on IST applications.


  • MATH 110 or MATH 140


Upon completion of IST 230, the student should be able to:

  • Differentiate between discrete and continuous phenomena
  • Discuss the importance of discrete mathematics to information sciences and technology
  • Think abstractly
  • Use logically valid forms of argument
  • Recognize invalid forms of argument
  • Discuss various methods of proof
  • Prove and apply simple theorems in discrete mathematics
  • Think recursively
  • Use recursion to represent sequences and to solve basic problems in computing and mathematics
  • Apply combinatorics to relevant problems in IST
  • Solve simple problems in discrete probability
  • Discuss the definition and characteristics of functions
  • Discuss the basic concepts of set theory
  • Prove and apply simple set theoretic results
  • Discuss basic concepts of number theory and prove some simple theorems
  • Discuss basic concepts of relations
  • Explain the connections between the mathematical theory of relations and modern database technology
  • Discuss the basic definitions and results of graph theory
  • Discuss the definition and importance of trees
  • Apply graphs and trees to solve basic problems relevant to IST
  • Discuss the definition and importance of Formal Languages and Regular Expressions
  • Discuss the definition and importance of Finite-State Automata
  • Apply Formal Languages and Finite-State Automata to basic problems relevant to IST


  • TBD


  • Irani, S. (2016). Discrete Mathematics. Zyante Inc. - This required, interactive text is only offered through To purchase your subscription to this text, please do the following:  
    • Sign up at
    • Enter zyBook code:
      • Section 001: TBD (Must use specific code, provided by your instructor)
      • Section 002: TBD (Must use specific code, provided by your instructor)
    • Click ‘subscribe’
    • Students may begin subscribing on TBD. Subscriptions are valid through TBD.

Assignments & Grading

Please refer to the University Grading Policy for Undergraduate Courses (Links to an external site.) for additional information about University grading policies.

If you are prevented from completing this course for reasons beyond your control, you have the option of requesting a deferred grade from your instructor. For more information, please see "Deferred Grades" on the Student Policies Web Site (Links to an external site.).

Course Grading Breakdown
Grading Category Percentage of Final Grade
Practice Problems--Ungraded (but helpful) 0%
Quizzes 45%
zyBooks 34%
Final 20%

Course Grading Scale

The following are minimum cutoffs for each grade:

  • 93.00% = A
  • 90.00% = A-
  • 87.00% = B+
  • 83.00% = B
  • 80.00% = B-
  • 77.00% = C+
  • 70.00% = C
  • 60.00% = D
  • less than 60.00% = F

Course Policies and Expectations

  • Logging into Canvas - Students are expected to login regularly to check for course updates, announcements, emails, discussions, etc.
  • Emailing through Canvas - Students are expected to use Canvas for all course email communication.
  • Attending virtual meetings - Students are expected to use specified virtual meeting tool(s) for collaboration, meetings, presentations, etc., as needed.

Academic Integrity

Penn State and the College of Information Sciences and Technology are committed to maintaining Penn State's policy on Academic Integrity in this and all other courses. We take academic integrity matters seriously and expect you to become a partner to the University/College standards of academic excellence.

For more information, please review these policies and procedures:

While utilizing additional sources outside of this class is encouraged for gaining a better understanding of course concepts, seeking explicit answers for graded assignments from outside sources (e.g. Course Hero, Chegg, tutoring services like, etc.) is considered CHEATING and will not be tolerated. Sanctions range from failure of the assignment or course to dismissal from the University. Additionally, sharing course content without permission is a violation of copyright and may result in university sanctions and/or legal ramifications. Contact your instructor with questions related to this topic. 

University Policies

Review current information regarding various Penn State policies (such as copyright, counseling, psychological services, disability and military accommodations, discrimination, harassment, emergencies, trade names, etc.) on the University Policies page.

Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated and can be reported through Educational Equity via the Report Bias webpage (


Find extensive information and links to many Penn State and IST resources (including the Penn State libraries, video conferencing tools, technology and software, writing and research help, and much more) on the Resources page.

Technical Requirements

Standard World Campus computer technical specifications are assumed for this course. Please test your computer for requirements. In addition, a webcam and a headset with a microphone are REQUIRED for the course. These may be used for virtual meetings, virtual office hours, interactions with classmates and your instructor, and group presentations - which are all conducted with virtual meeting tools. No special software is required.


The following schedule outlines the topics covered in this course, along with the associated time frames, readings, activities, and assignments. All due dates reflect Eastern Time (ET). Specifying the time zone ensures that all students have the same deadlines, regardless of where they live.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due