Morse theory offers a natural and mathematically-sound tool for shape analysis and understanding. It allows studying the behavior of a scalar function defined on a manifold. Starting from a Morse function, we can decompose the domain of the function into meaningful regions associated with the critical points of the function. Such decompositions, called Morse complexes, provide a segmentation of a shape and are extensively used in terrain modeling and in scientific visualization. Discrete Morse theory, a combinatorial counterpart of smooth Morse theory defined over cell complexes, provides an excellent basis for computing Morse complexes in a robust and efficient way. Moreover, since a discrete Morse complex computed over a given complex has the same homology as the original one, but fewer cells, discrete Morse theory is a fundamental tool for efficiently detecting holes in shapes through homology and persistent homology. In this survey, we review, classify and analyze algorithms for computing and simplifying Morse complexes in the context of such applications with an emphasis on discrete Morse theory and on algorithms based on it.