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A unified model is proposed to elucidate the resistive switching behavior of metal-oxide-based resistive random access memory devices using the concept of electron hopping transport along filamentary conducting paths in dielectric layer. The transport calculation shows that a low-electron-occupied region along the conductive filament (CF) is formed when a critical electric field is applied. The oxygen vacancies in this region are recombined with oxygen ions, resulting in rupture of the CFs. The proposed mechanism was verified by experiments and theoretical calculations. In this physical model, the observed resistive switching behaviors in the oxide-based systems can be quantified and predicted.