The rate- and state-dependent constitutive formulation for fault slip characterizes an exceptional variety of materials over a wide range of sliding conditions. This formulation provides a unified representation of diverse sliding phenomena including slip weakening over a characteristic sliding distance D(c), apparent fracture energy at a rupture front, time- dependent healing after rapid slip, and various other transient and slip rate effects. Laboratory observations and theoretical models both indicate that earthquake nucleation is accompanied by long intervals of accelerating slip. Strains from the nucleation process on buried faults generally could not be detected if laboratory values of D, apply to faults in nature. However, scaling of D(c) is presently an open question and the possibility exists that measurable premonitory creep may precede some earthquakes. Earthquake activity is modeled as a sequence of earthquake nucleation events. In this model, earthquake clustering arises from sensitivity of nucleation times to the stress changes induced by prior earthquakes. The model gives the characteristic Omori aftershock decay law and assigns physical interpretation to aftershock parameters. The seismicity formulation predicts large changes of earthquake probabilities result from stress changes. Two mechanisms for foreshocks are proposed that describe observed frequency of occurrence of foreshock-mainshock pairs by time and magnitude. With the first mechanism, foreshocks represent a manifestation of earthquake clustering in which the stress change at the time of the foreshock increases the probability of earthquakes at all magnitudes including the eventual mainshock. With the second model, accelerating fault slip on the mainshock nucleation zone triggers foreshocks.