In order to encode or decode a DICOM object, or to perform troubleshooting, it is important to understand its specification, - the Information Object Definition (IOD). These IODs are specified using modules, which consist of the most basic DICOM unit, the data element or attribute.

A module is described as a group of data elements. Every data element or attribute in a module has the following fields – attribute name, tag, type and description.

Each data element has a four-byte tag to identify the specific element. For example, the tag for pixel spacing is (0028,0030). The reason for this four-byte/two- component structure is simply a matter of history.  

The ACR-NEMA standard used the notion of groups (the first tag component) and elements (the second part of the tag). Similar attributes were grouped together. The groups were considered a predecessor of the modules, and the different groups could be identified based on the first tag element.

In DICOM, this number has no implicit meaning.

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