The R-matrix theory
The different facets of the $R$-matrix method are presented pedagogically in a general framework. Two variants have been developed over the years: $(i)$ The "calculable" $R$-matrix method is a calculational tool to derive scattering properties from the Schrödinger equation in a large variety of physical problems. It was developed rather independently in atomic and nuclear physics with too little mutual influence. $(ii)$ The "phenomenological" $R$-matrix method is a technique to parametrize various types of cross sections. It was mainly (or uniquely) used in nuclear physics. Both directions are explained by starting from the simple problem of scattering by a potential. They are illustrated by simple examples in nuclear and atomic physics. In addition to elastic scattering, the $R$-matrix formalism is applied to transfer and radiative-capture reactions. We also present more recent and more ambitious applications of the theory in nuclear physics.