Four Ferries Oy
Office: Kaskenkatu 4 B 6, 20700 Turku, Finland

Visiting address: Läntinen Pitkäkatu 23 F, 20100 Turku, Finland

Company mission

4ferries is founded by teachers and researchers in STEM subjects, with the mission to improve math education. We offer an efficient digital tools for learning and teaching mathematics and other STEM subjects. The platform can be used by teachers, students, tutors, education authorities, and all other parties interested in new computer-based approaches to teaching.

Our flagship product, 4f Studio, is a general learning environment that can be used for any topic and at any level of education. Our eMath Studio environment provides special support for teaching mathematics in school, in particular at secondary and tertiary education levels.  This includes our groundbreaking technology for step-by-step automatic checking of students' solutions to mathematical problems. Four Ferries products are developed by experts in software development and mathematics.

Meet the Team

COO, Marketing and Sales
Front-end Developer
Financial Officer
Back-end Developer
We are a strong team of educators, mathematicians and programmers. We are highly experienced in handling large scale development projects and pilots. And we listen and learn from our customers, so give us a call or send us a note, and will get right on it.
+1 650 924 9329

Company Board

  • Ralph-Johan Back, Chairman
  • Aarne Sipilä

Board of Advisors

  • Pia Hardy, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Anna Mikhailova, Los Angeles, U.S.A
  • Fredrik Rönnlund, Turku, Finland

Company background

The company Four Ferries was founded by researchers behind the eMath and ViRum projects, and the scientific work leading up to these projects. The eMath project 2011 - 2016 was funded by EU and the Swedish Cultural Foundation. The aim was to pilot the structured derivation approach to mathematics education in high schools, and build a digital platform for mathematics education in general. The Virum project 2014 - 2017 was also funded  by the Swedish Cultural Foundation. The aim of this project was to develop a digital platform for virtual education. The research in these projects was carried out at Abo Akademi University and University of Turku.

Four Ferries has an agreement with the two universities to commercialize the results of these research projects. The focus is on supporting computer based  teaching of mathematics. The aims have since then widened, so that we now provide a powerful learning platform for all topics in school education, in the form of the 4f Studio. At the same time,  support for mathematics education has also been considerably extended, in particular with the new improved tools for creating solutions to mathematical problems, checking the step-by-step correctness of these solutions, and the new eMath textbook series for high school mathematics.

Four Ferries main commercial activities started  in March 2017,  when the research projects had ended. The focus has been on turning the  prototypes developed in the research projects  into attractive commercial products. This has meant creating a wholly new online version of the original 4f Studio learning environment, a substantial extension and strengthening of the automatic checker, and continuous work on improving the user interface and ease of use. The company has been working in close cooperation with a number of  middle schools, high schools, and universities in Finland.  The pilots carried out with these have proved to be very fruitful, leading to a number of improvements in both functionality, robustness and user friendliness.

Research background

The products offered by Four Ferries are the result of more than 20 years of research in mathematics education at Abo Akademi University and University of Turku. The structured derivation format, on which many of the company products are bsed, was originally developed by Ralph-Johan Back and Joakim von Wright in the late 1990s, based on earlier ides by Edsger W. Dijkstra, Wim Feijen and Nettie van Gasteren on calculational proofs in the 1980s.

The method was further developed at the Learning and Reasoning Laboratory, a joint research lab for the IT-departments of Abo Akademi University and University of Turku. Funding for this research has been provided by the Academy of Finland, TEKES, EU, the Technology industry foundation of Finland and the Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland. The structured derivation approach has been piloted in a large number of case studies at high school and junior high school level.

The first version of 4f Studio was  developed in the E-math project (2011- 2013). This was an EU project in the Central Baltic program (Interreg IV). The project created a digital learning environment for mathematics education at high school level, a collection of digital textbooks based on structured derivations, and piloted the textbooks and the environment in 15 different high schools in Finland, Sweden and Estonia.

The Swedish Cultural Foundation financed two different continuations of the EU project for 2014 - 2016. The first project (eMath 2) created a complete set of textbooks for high school mathematics (grades 10 - 12) according to Finnish national curriculum (in Finnish, Swedish and English). The second project, Virum, has generalized and extended the original E-math learning platform so that it now can be used for all school topics and at all school levels.

The company has continued developing the products after the academic projects ended. The support from the local industry development center (ELY) 2017-18 allowed us to generalise the Virum platform to a general purpose digital learning environment, 4f Studio. The support from the national industry development center (Business Finland 2018-19) allowed us to considerably extend the functionality and efficency of the automatic checker, so that it now supports all middle school and most advanced level high school math courses.