David Williamson was born in Madison, Wisconsin, but grew up in the suburbs of Honolulu, Hawaii. He received his Ph.D. in 1993 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  In 1995 he joined IBM Research, and from 2000-2003 was the Senior Manager of the Computer Science Principles and Methodologies Department at IBM's Almaden
Research Center.  In 2004, he joined Cornell University as a professor in the School of Operations Research and Information Engineering, and the Faculty of Computing and Information Science.   He is currently Chair of the Department of Information Science.

Dr. Williamson is well-known for his work on the topic of approximation algorithms, and is a coauthor of the book "The Design of Approximation Algorithms", published by Cambridge University Press. His Ph.D. dissertation on designing low-cost survivable networks was awarded several prizes, including the 1996 SIAM DiPrima Prize and the 1994 Tucker Prize from the Mathematical Programming Society. His work with Michel Goemans on the uses of semidefinite programming in approximation algorithms was awarded the 1999 SIAM Activity Group on Optimization prize, and the 2000 Fulkerson Prize from the Mathematical Programming Society and the American Mathematical Society. He is the editor-in-chief for the SIAM Journal on Discrete Mathematics, and has served as an associate editor on several other journals, including Mathematics of Operations Research and the SIAM Journal on Computing.