I want to ask whether a certain abstract structure has to have children of the same kind, possibly nested an infinite number of times. The closest example would be a genealogy tree where each node has scalar properties, like first name or gender, and also successors, each having scalar properties and successors, and so on. So, should I ask, "should this structure be hierarchic" or "should this structure be hierarchical"? What's the difference between the two?

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    Unlike, say, electric / electrical, which are both very common, and have thus gradually acquired different connotations and usages, I don't think there's really any generally-recognized distinction between hierarchic and hierarchical. But the latter is far more common, so I suggest you use it. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Feb 16 '16 at 18:28
  • See also at EL&U: “Hierarchical” vs. “hierarchic” – choster Mar 17 '16 at 19:59
  • I found this gem on wikidiff.com: "... the difference between hierarchic and hierarchical is that hierarchic is hierarchal while hierarchical is pertaining to a hierarchy". Got that? Good. – JavaLatte Mar 17 '16 at 20:22

Your question seems to revolve around a computer science data structure problem of whether nested objects are hierarchical.

They are not.

However, they can sometimes be transformed into a tree-like structure and be hierarchical.

You should use hierarchical since it is part of the technical terminology for computers.

hierarchical data structures
hierarchical database
hierarchical hashing
hierarchical hidden Markov models
hierarchical k-means tree
hierarchical clustering

The only phrase I've come across using hierarchic is hierarchic escalation which means pushing things up the chain of command.

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