The paper is concerned with the representation of the relationship that exists, for a given material and temperature and for small deformations, between histories of applied stress and the observed strain and the accompanying changes in internal structure of the material. Emphasis is given to creep damage in metals as a vehicle for illustration of the main ideas introduced in the paper. In particular, the role played by irreducible even rank tensors in the representation of internal structure is discussed and clarified. The restrictions placed by thermodynamics on constitutive equations are considered and the use of potentials in these equations is examined and criticized.

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