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 based, 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.

Publications on Empirical Studies

Teachers' Experience from Using Interactive E-books in the Classroom (Hägerstedt, E., Mannila, L., Salakoski, T. and Back, R-J., The Seventh Nordic Conference on Mathematics Education, NORMA14. Turku, Finland, June 2014)

"It Takes Me Longer, but I Understand Better" – Student Feedback on Structured Derivations (Back, R-J., Mannila, L. and Wallin, S., International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, Vol. 41, No. 5, pp. 575-593)

An Empirical Evaluation of Structured Derivations in High School Mathematics (Peltomäki, M., and Back, R-J., ICMI 19: 19th ICMI Study Conference on Proof and Proving in Mathematics Education. Taipei, Taiwan, May 2009)

Promoting Students’ Justification Skills Using Structured Derivations (Mannila, L. and Wallin, S., ICMI 19: 19th ICMI Study Conference on Proof and Proving in Mathematics Education. Taipei, Taiwan, May 2009)