This is one of the oldest synchronization primitives in the history of computer science, invented by the early Dutch computer scientist Edsger W. Dijkstra (he used P() and V() instead of acquire() and release()).
A semaphore manages an internal counter which is decremented by each acquire() call and incremented by each release() call. The counter can never go below zero; when acquire() finds that it is zero, it blocks, waiting until some other thread calls release().
When invoked without arguments: if the internal counter is larger than zero on entry, decrement it by one and return immediately. If it is zero on entry, block, waiting until some other thread has called release() to make it larger than zero. This is done with proper interlocking so that if multiple acquire() calls are blocked, release() will wake exactly one of them up. The implementation may pick one at random, so the order in which blocked threads are awakened should not be relied on. There is no return value in this case.
When invoked with blocking set to true, do the same thing as when called without arguments, and return true.
When invoked with blocking set to false, do not block. If a call without an argument would block, return false immediately; otherwise, do the same thing as when called without arguments, and return true.