Constitutive models for plastic deformation of metals are typically based on flow rules determining the transition from elastic to plastic response of a material as function of the applied mechanical load. These flow rules are commonly formulated as a yield function, based on the equivalent stress and the yield strength of the material, and its derivatives. In this work, a novel mathematical formulation is developed that allows the efficient use of machine learning algorithms describing the elastic-plastic deformation of a solid under arbitrary mechanical loads and that can replace the standard yield functions with more flexible algorithms. By exploiting basic physical principles of elastic-plastic deformation, the dimensionality of the problem is reduced without loss of generality. The data-oriented approach inherently offers a great flexibility to handle different kinds of material anisotropy without the need for explicitly calculating a large number of model parameters. The applicability of this formulation in finite element analysis is demonstrated, and the results are compared to formulations based on Hill-like anisotropic plasticity as reference model. In future applications, the machine learning algorithm can be trained by hybrid experimental and numerical data, as for example obtained from fundamental micromechanical simulations based on crystal plasticity models. In this way, data-oriented constitutive modeling will also provide a new way to homogenize numerical results in a scale-bridging approach.
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