The article surveys the application of complex ray theory to the scalar Helmholtz equation in two dimensions.
The first objective is to motivate a framework within which complex rays may be used to make predictions about wavefields in a wide variety of geometrical configurations. A crucial ingredient in this framework is the role played by Stokes' phenomenon in determining the regions of existence of complex rays. The identification of the Stokes surfaces emerges as a key step in the approximation procedure, and this leads to the consideration of the many characterisations of Stokes surfaces, including the adaptation and application of recent developments in exponential asymptotics to the complex WKB expansion of these wavefields.
Examples are given for several cases of physical importance.