On the delete menu with vertices selected, I am presented with two options(among others), dissolve, and limited dissolve. What is the function of each, and when should I use each?
As per the wiki
...effectively turns the selection into a single N-gon. Dissolve works slightly different based on if you have edges, faces or vertices selected. You can add detail where you need it, or quickly remove it where you don't.
While a limited dissolve
...reduces detail on planer faces and linear edges with an adjustable angle threshold.
From experience, you would use a dissolve to create one large N-gon from several vertices while a limited dissolve can be used to remove excess geometry.