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.